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Sen. Mitt Romney introduces bipartisan vaping legislation

FILE - In this May 21, 2019 file photo, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, speaks to reporters after a classified members-only briefing on Iran, Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, introduced a measure aimed at curbing vaping among teens as part of next year’s appropriations bill.

Romney: vaping is a public health issue

The senators filed the ENND Act, which stands for Ending New Nicotine Dependencies, as an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations bill.

“We are introducing our ENND Act as an amendment to the appropriations package being considered on the floor today because we simply cannot afford any more delay in putting our nation’s young people at risk of nicotine addiction,” Romney said in a statement. “I urge my colleagues to join me in taking decisive action on this issue.”

Next month, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, on which Romney serves, will hold a hearing about teen vaping and the rise in lung illnesses connected to e-cigarettes.

Targeting children?

Merkley said it’s clear e-cigarette makers are targeting children.

“Flavors like ‘gummy bear,’ ‘scooby snacks,’ and ‘strawberries and cream’ are designed to hook children on nicotine and e-cigarettes,” he said. “Unfortunately, these insidious marketing tactics are working — causing a new addiction crisis and massive health consequences for young people. This is an urgent problem that requires an urgent solution.”

Romney and Merkley say their ENND Act would regulate the vaping industry. In part, they seek to ban “non-tobacco flavors” and make sure the vaping devices are tamper-proof.

The act would also require the Department of Health and Human Services to launch a campaign raising awareness about the dangers of vaping, funded by moving an existing excise tax on tobacco to e-cigarettes.

Health officials named vaping as the cause of at least one Utah death so far. In that case, the state health department said the patient vaped unregulated THC prior to death. More recently, Utah health officials announced an emergency rule aimed at preventing certain shops from selling flavored vapes. Vape shop owners sued over that rule, and the matter is now on hold while a judge considers the lawsuit.

You can read more about the proposed legislation on Romney’s website here.