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Pennsylvania Taking on Youth Vaping with Proposed Law

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Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), known as "vapes", entered the market as an alternative to combustible tobacco for smokers. Vapes produce an aerosol vapor often containing nicotine and flavoring that users inhale. Many users view ENDS as a tool for smoking cessation. They do contain fewer harmful chemicals than cigarettes and other traditional tobacco products. However, they are not chemical free. Many flavored liquids used in vapes contain heavy metals and chemicals such as Diacetyl, which has been linked to lung disease. 

The rising popularity of ENDS have pushed both federal and state lawmakers to consider legislation to regulate their sale and use, especially among minors. According to a 2018 study by the CDC, more than 3 million high school students were current users (past 30 days) of ENDS. From 2017 to 2018, e-cigarette use increased by 78 percent among high school students and 48 percent among middle school students.

In 2016, the FDA finalized a rule that extended its regulatory authority to include ENDS. The rule prohibited youth access to ENDS and provided a needed framework for future FDA restrictions. This month, the FDA released new draft guidance for compliance policies for premarket review requirements for certain tobacco products, including flavored e-cigarettes and cigars. It also describes how the FDA intends to prioritize its enforcement regarding the marketing of products that do not have premarket authorization.

In Pennsylvania, lawmakers have proposed HB97, “An Act Amending Title 18, in minors, further providing for the offense of sale of tobacco and for the offense of use of tobacco in schools.” The bill, which passed the House on March 25, 2019, amends the Crime Code by adding ENDS to existing legislation that makes it illegal to sell tobacco products to minors and, for students, to use tobacco products on school grounds.