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Mint, menthol: Vape industry has dug heels in on flavor bans

SeattlePI.com Thursday, 12 September 2019 ()
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Efforts to ban flavored e-cigarettes and reduce their appeal to youngsters have sputtered under industry pressure in over a half-dozen states this year even as one state, Michigan, moves ahead with its own restrictions and President Donald Trump promises federal ones.

In many cases, the fight by the industry and its lobbyists has focused on leaving the most popular flavors — mint and its close cousin, menthol — alone. But public health experts say that all flavors should be banned, and that menthol can still hook kids on vaping.

The proposal Trump outlined on Wednesday, which would supersede any state inaction, includes a ban on mint and menthol, and an industry giant quickly indicated it would capitulate.

"We strongly agree with the need for aggressive category-wide action on flavored products," read a statement released by Juul Labs Inc. "We will fully comply with the final FDA policy when effective."

But the fight in state legislatures has been fierce. Lobbyists for the vaping and tobacco industry fought bans on flavors in Hawaii, California, New Mexico, Massachusetts, New York, Maine and Connecticut.

Such bans failed or stalled, even as Michigan's governor this month ordered emergency rules prohibiting flavored e-cigarettes. New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday expressed a desire to ban flavored e-cigarettes.

Trump's federal proposal, as it stands, would require no congressional approval, meaning lobbying efforts to defeat it could be less effective than in state legislatures. Juul spent $1.9 million in the first half of the year to try and sway the White House, Congress and the Food and Drug Administration.

The Vapor Technology Association has reported spending $78,000 this year in its lobbying fight against California's...
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