Bills to ban flavored tobacco products and menthol cigarettes remain on the table at state capitol

Health

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Fruity flavors, eye-catching colors. E-cigarettes and vaping sticks are in. Menthol cigarettes are still hot. There are several bills being debated at the state capitol which are focused on getting flavored vapes out of the hands of teens.

State Rep. Vin Candelora the Republican House Minority Leader says, “What are we marketing to our children and how do we control that?”

All ban flavored tobacco products including vapes and e-cigarettes. The Public Health Committee bill also bans menthol cigarettes.

State Sen. Mary Daugherty Abrams the Democratic Co-Chair of the Public Health Committee says if a ban on flavored tobacco is passed the public will benefit. “In the long run, we will be so much better off, financially, healthwise in every way,”

Daugherty Abrams also says menthol cigarettes should be banned. “Many from the Black and brown community came out to say they felt targeted by having menthol in their communities and were asking us to do something.”

Governor Ned Lamont’s bill does not ban flavored cigars, or menthol cigarettes.

Yale’s School of Public Health Dr. Friedman says that complicates the public policy.

Dr. Abigail Friedman of Yale School of Public Health says, “What you’re talking about doing is taking away flavored e-cigs but leaving flavored little cigars and menthol on the table….From a public health perspective that does not make sense.”

The governor’s bill does crack down on the tobacco industry.

It includes:

  • Spot checks on businesses by special agents from the Department of Revenue Services (DRS) and The Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS).
  • A cap on nicotine content in products.
  • A tax on insurance companies to fund the Healthcare Exchange database.
  • Business owners face civil penalties of up to $2,000 and their license to operate could be revoked after a number of violations.
  • Employees could face individual fines of up to $500 for selling banned products.

State Sen. Mary Daugherty Abrams adds, “They are the ones who would be fined or held responsible for selling these things.”

The Public Health Committee bill includes revenue losses of nearly $300-million by 2026.
And estimates it will cost up to $635,000 to hire more state employees for enforcement.

Complicating the debate; lawmakers are also considering making marijuana legal in Connecticut.

State Rep. Vin Candelora says it’s “highly hypocritical, we’re going to have a debate on marijuana gummy bears and at the same time ban watermelon vape.”

The non-partisan office of fiscal analysis reports any money collected from civil penalties would not make up for the loss of tax revenue.

A bill proposed by the Committee on Children would allow flavored vapes to be sold at stores if the business owners ban anyone under 21 from entering the store.

The bills have made it out of Committee and await a full vote of the legislature.

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