‘Ready to go.’ Banning flavored vaping on Lamont’s agenda

Governor Ned Lamont’s warm welcome to Phillip Morris last year, with his headquarters moving from New York to Stamford, drew a swift rebuke from anti-tobacco activists who said the move would be a test of governor’s support for banning flavored products. vaping products in Connecticut.

At the time, the governor said the company’s decision, which he helped bring to fruition, would not conflict with its public health goals. Now, weeks away from the 2022 legislative session, Lamont said he was committed to backing a flavored vaping ban, but is not guaranteeing the proposal will feature in his medium-term budget plan, which is expected to be unveiled next month.

“I’m ready to continue on that,” Lamont said Tuesday, when asked about his support for the ban after an unrelated event at Bloomfield. “I think it was the right thing to do last time. I think we’ve come up with it once or twice. This time I’d like to work with the legislature to see if they’re going to step in. I’m going to sign it .

The Connecticut Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, its chief advocate, pushed the governor to propose the vaping ban himself as he did in his two previous budget plans, which would be a stronger endorsement than to leave it to the legislature to introduce a bill.

“We appreciate the governor’s support, sure, but he can take the lead on this, and we expect him to,” said Kevin O’Flaherty, director of advocacy for the group.

O’Flaherty said comments the governor made in June when he announced Phillip Morris’ decision hinted that he would take the initiative to reintroduce the proposal. Lamont said at the time, “We failed to get it through the legislature, and we’ll try again as soon as possible.”

“We hope he keeps his word,” O’Flaherty said.

Last year’s effort collapsed at the eleventh hour after a watered down version of the ban was removed from the massive budget bill at the behest of Tobacco-Free Kids. The group said at the time that the proposal was “riddled with major flaws” and could have made Connecticut more prone to lawsuits from the vaping industry.

Tobacco-Free Kids had advocated for a ban on all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, but that effort failed to gain traction in the legislature last year after budget analysts not supporters have said the state could lose nearly $200 million in tax revenue over the next two years. years following the ban.

By comparison, a ban on flavored vaping products would cost the state several million dollars in taxes a year, O’Flaherty said. These products are what “the vast majority of children use to get addicted to nicotine,” he added.

“We don’t see the use of menthol cigarettes increasing among children. It is a static situation. Although it is horrible and needs to be addressed, ecigs are paving the way for children’s addiction to tobacco products,” he said.

Teen vaping is down 40% in 2021 compared to 2020, according to the latest National Youth Smoking Survey.

But O’Flaherty cautioned against making assumptions about general teen vaping habits based on the data, given that it was collected during the pandemic when kids spent a lot of time out of the classroom. and away from their social networks.

“We don’t know at this point if this is an actual decline in long-term use of these products or if this is a setback due to the way the data was compiled. collected – mostly online and through home surveys versus school surveys as was done before,” he said.

The decline could also be a “reflection” of the fact that children socialized less throughout the pandemic and therefore likely had fewer opportunities to use vaping products. As kids return to class and reconnect with friends, teen vaping could increase, O’Flaherty said.

“It’s only a year of data,” he said. “It’s hard to say if there has really been a significant change.”

[email protected]

About Margaret Shaw

Check Also

Top FDA tobacco official resigns to take job at Philip Morris International

OOn July 26, Matthew Holman, director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco …