FEATURE US SENATORS INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO REGULATE E-LIQUID FLAVOURS The SAFE Kids Act could mark the boldest step yet towards a federal flavour ban BY LEO FORFAR Vaping has been branded a Big Tobacco- inspired “re-invention of smoking” by a US Senator who is spearheading moves to heavily restrict flavoured e-liquids. Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin and Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski have introduced legislation to crack down on “kid-friendly flavourings” in e-cigarettes such as cake batter, whipped cream, and gummy bear. The Stopping Appealing Flavors in E-Cigarettes for Kids (SAFE Kids) Act was introduced in the Senate on August 1 and would seriously limit the flavourings used in e-cigarettes. If passed, flavoured e-liquids would be “generally restricted” but manufacturers would have one year to “prove to the FDA” that their flavours helped adults quit smoking while not encouraging young people to smoke or vape. Durbin said: “We have made great progress in convincing kids not to start smoking cigarettes [and] nowadays, it’s hard to find someplace where smoking cigarettes is even allowed. “But, I am convinced that e-cigarettes represent the ‘re-invention of smoking,’ cooked up by Big Tobacco to hook a new generation.” He added: “Unfortunately, kids don’t understand that e-cigarettes are highly addictive, harmful to their developing brains, and can lead to a lifetime of tobacco addiction. These products, especially flavours that shamelessly appeal to kids, are doing more harm than good.” Durbin and Murkowski also cited a recent government study which linked underage tobacco use with flavoured e-liquid as a reason the new law was needed. The study, Flavored Tobacco Product Use Among US Youth, said: “Consistent with national school- based estimates, this study confirms widespread appeal of flavoured products among youth tobacco users … efforts to decrease use of flavoured tobacco products among youth should be considered.” In a press release published on his official website, he claimed that e-cigarettes were the most commonly used tobacco product among youth. 66 | VM19 “I am convinced that e-cigarettes represent the ‘re-invention of smoking,’ cooked up by Big Tobacco to hook a new generation.” He said: “More than two million teenagers used them last year, which is a 653 percent increase from just five years ago. While smoking rates for traditional cigarettes are decreasing—from 28 percent in 2000 to eight percent in 2017—the nation is seeing significant increases in youth use of cigars and e-cigarettes. “From 2011 to 2015, the percentage o f e-cigarette use among high school kids increased ten-fold from 1.5 percent to 16 percent. Among kids, 81 percent of e-cigarette users said their first tobacco product had flavouring.” Writing on her official website, Senator Lisa Murkowski accused tobacco companies of having “a long history of developing and marketing flavoured tobacco products as ‘starter’ products that attract kids.” She said: “Flavours improve the taste and mask the harshness of tobacco products, making them more appealing and easier for kids to try the product and ultimately become addicted.” However, vaping advocates say the proposed legislation is flawed. Dr Christopher Russell, Deputy Director of the Centre for Substance Use Research (CSUR) has studied the use of flavours in e-liquids and has had research published in the Harm Reduction Journal. He said: “Non-tobacco flavours, especially fruit- based flavours, are being increasingly preferred to tobacco flavours by adult vapers who have completely switched from combustible cigarettes to vapour products.” The SAFE Kids bill must pass through the Senate, House and finally the president to become law. It is currently sitting at the introduction stage, having been read twice to its relevant committee. No revisions or amendments have yet been made.