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House approves bill to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes

The bill would place new restrictions on the marketing of e-cigarettes and ban flavors in tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a bill to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products. It's meant to stem a vaping epidemic among young people. 

The bill would place new restrictions on the marketing of e-cigarettes and ban flavors in tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes. It would place a new excise tax on nicotine. 

The House approved the bill Friday, by a 213-195 vote with 17 Democrats voting against the bill and 5 Republicans supporting it. It now moves to the Senate, where approval is considered unlikely. The White House has said it opposes the bill.

The bill was sponsored by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) and Rep. Donna Shalala, the former Health and Human Services secretary. 

Supporters say the bill provides a comprehensive strategy to reverse a growing teen vaping epidemic. Some estimates say 5.4 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes in 2019. 

Credit: AP
Inam Rehman, manager of Jubilee Vape & Smoke Inc., vapes while discussing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's push to enact a statewide ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes amid growing health concerns, Monday Sept. 16, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

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Some members of the Congressional Black Caucus voted against the bill in fear that it would give police a reason to target African Americans, which disproportionately use menthol cigarettes. 

"This legislation has dire, unintended consequences for American Americans,” Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), a member of the CBC, told The Hill. “Law enforcement would have an additional reason to stop and frisk menthol tobacco users because menthol would be considered illegal under this ban.”  

Manufacturer Juul Labs said in November it was halting U.S. sales of its best-selling, mint-flavored e-cigarettes.