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Sen. Romney introduces legislation to ban non-tobacco e-cigarette flavors

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Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) is taking another step to fight the "vaping crisis" that's swept the nation. (Photo: KUTV)

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) is taking another step to fight the "vaping crisis" that's swept the nation.

The Utah senator, along with Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced the Ending New Nicotine Dependencies (ENND) Act last week.

“With nearly a quarter of high school students vaping regularly, we must take decisive action to prevent a new generation from addiction and serious health risks,” Romney stated in a press release. “Let’s begin by passing legislation which ensures that non-tobacco flavored vaping products are removed from the market and prevents vaping devices from being adulterated with hazardous substances. The ENND Act will address both of these concerns, as well as apply the existing tobacco excise tax to e-cigarettes and use it to launch a public awareness campaign.”

The legislation would regulate e-cigarette standards, prohibit non-tobacco flavors, ensure electronic nicotine delivery systems are tamper-proof and require a public awareness campaign about the dangers of vaping, according to a press release.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 530 confirmed and probable cases of vape-related breathing illnesses in 38 states and one U.S. territory. At least five people have died.

“Vaping companies have hooked millions of our children on nicotine using e-cigarette flavors like ‘gummy bear,’ ‘scooby snacks,’ and ‘strawberries and cream.’ This means massive health consequences for the next generation, and we have to end this addiction crisis,” said Merkley. “We need to get these flavors off the market. In addition, refillable cartridges are an invitation to hazardous concoctions, and we need to get them off the market too. That’s exactly what our bill does. The federal government should have done this long ago, and we should take these actions now without delay.”

The ENND Act would also apply existing tobacco excise tax to e-cigarettes.

“We applaud Senators Romney and Merkley for working to protect kids from e-cigarettes. Their bill properly focuses on addressing both the lung disease issues and the epidemic of youth use of these products. This is an issue that requires bold, urgent action. We are delighted to be working with them during the legislative process to help find the best possible solutions to both of these problems,” Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, stated in a press release.

The University of Utah Health released a statement in support of Romney's effort to decrease the minimize of e-cigarettes and vaping.

"Vaping is especially dangerous to our youth due to risks of addiction and lung disease. UUH supports the legislative concepts of making tamperproof e-cigarette delivery systems and elimination of flavors in e-cigarettes.”

Romney and Merkley met with Acting Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration Norman Sharpless Thursday about the agency's plan to ban all non-tobacco e-cigarette flavors.

The Utah senator released this statement after the meeting:

“I met this morning with the Acting Commissioner of the FDA to discuss the next steps we must take to solve this pervasive public health crisis. With nearly a quarter of high school students vaping regularly, I believe there is a need for legislation which ensures that flavored vaping products are removed from the market. Secondly, we have to look at device design to ensure we are not making it easy to contaminate vaping products with hazardous substances."

Romeny asked the FDA on Sept. 10 to consider recalling all e-cigarettes as the agency investigates over 450 cases of vape-related lung disease and at least five deaths.

"I'm increasingly concerned that a generation of young people has been deceived into thinking e-cigarettes are safe," he tweeted.