On Dec. 31, Trump ordered the Food and Drug Administration to ban the most popular flavored e-cigarettes. But he exempted disposable devices, which are cheaper than the refillable cartridges and increasingly being used by teenagers.
“It’s just not acceptable to stand by for an hour longer,” Franchot said during an Annapolis news conference where he said that collective inaction was hooking thousands of teenagers on nicotine. “Wake up. This is happening. Right in front of our eyes.”
Disposable e-cigarettes come in flavors such as strawberry, cool mint and mango and are sold under brands such as Puff Bar, Blu, Posh and Stig for $8 to $11 apiece. Open-tank systems and thousands of flavored e-liquids not in pod form — products commonly found in vape shops and in some convenience stores — also are not covered by the ban, which took effect Thursday.
“It is an entrance ramp for young people,” Franchot said, holding several examples of the products aloft. “We’re not putting up with this addicting of our young people.”
The comptroller acknowledged that disposable products represent a small part of the flavored-nicotine market, but he noted that sales have ballooned as federal regulators crack down on other devices that target young people.
Franchot said the decision to ban the disposable product is an attempt to close the loophole in the FDA guidelines and is the result of work done by a state task force on electronic smoking devices. That task force will release its final report and recommendations next week.
Vaping — once seen in popular culture as a healthier alternative to smoking — is highly addictive and increasingly viewed as a public health hazard, especially for young people.
School and health officials say vaping has become rampant among teenagers and young adults, with many of them becoming addicted. Franchot, citing federal figures, said 27.5 percent of high school students now report having used vaping products within the past 30 days — up from less than 5 percent in 2011.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2,711 people have been diagnosed with a vaping-related lung illness. Sixty deaths have been confirmed in 27 states and the District of Columbia.
A bill pending in the Maryland General Assembly would ban any tobacco product, including vaping products, that have an odor other than tobacco.
The measure has the support of House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County), Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) and the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus.
Legislative analysts say the bill would lead to a drop in state revenue from tobacco product sales of about $11.8 million in fiscal 2020.
The comptroller’s office sent the state’s roughly 8,000 licensed tobacco retailers and wholesalers a letter warning that the state now considers the disposable products contraband, and that selling the items could jeopardize their tobacco licenses.
“We expect that we will get a lot of voluntary compliance,” said Jeffrey A. Kelly, director of the Field Enforcement Division.
If not, Kelly said, the state will cite tobacco sellers caught with the products during routine annual inspections.