Illinois House bill would ban flavored tobacco, e-cigarette products

Illinois House bill would ban flavored tobacco, e-cigarette products

The Illinois General Assembly is weighing a statewide ban on flavored e-cigarettes in light of recent deaths and illnesses linked to vaping products.

Illinois could soon be the next state to impose a statewide ban on flavored electronic cigarette products.

State Rep. Grant Wehrli, R-Naperville, filed House Bill 3887 on Sept. 13, which would create the Flavored Tobacco Ban Act, prohibiting the sale of flavored e-cigarette and tobacco products. Stores that violate the ban would risk losing their retailer’s license.

Michigan on Sept. 4 became the first state in the nation to ban the sale of flavored vape products. Like the Michigan ban, HB 3887 would still allow the sale of unflavored vape products. However, Illinois’ proposal would also restrict the sale of flavored tobacco, unlike Michigan’s law.

Illinois’ proposed ban on flavored vape products comes as 380 people nationwide have been hospitalized for respiratory issues and seven have died after using e-cigarette devices.

Youth tobacco use has declined overall in recent years, while vaping has spiked. The first reported death linked to an e-cigarette device occurred in Illinois, according to the Chicago Tribune. Illinois and Wisconsin have seen the highest number of these cases.

A study by the New England Journal of Medicine found 83% of those hospitalized in Illinois and Wisconsin reported using e-cigarette devices to consume substances purchased illegally on the black market, while 17% reported using nicotine products intended for the devices. Among the patients studied, the median age was 19 years old.

Health officials around the country have expressed uncertainty over what specifically in the products is causing patients to fall ill. The Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, said many of the vaping fluids studied related to the illnesses contained THC and vitamin E acetate, according to the New York Times, substances not intended for e-cigarette use.

A teen from Gurnee, Illinois, was hospitalized at the end of August after vaping with THC. In another case that received national attention, 18-year-old Piper Johnson of New Lenox, Illinois, was hospitalized after experiencing a fever and difficulty breathing while on her way to college. Johnson reportedly consumed a combination of both THC and nicotine products.

The FDA said in a statement, “Because consumers cannot be sure whether any THC vaping products may contain vitamin E acetate, consumers are urged to avoid buying vaping products on the street, and to refrain from using THC oil or modifying/adding any substances to products purchased in stores.”

U.S. President Donald Trump on Sept. 11 proposed a ban on the sale of flavored vape products nationwide. First Lady Melania Trump on Sept. 9 raised concerns about vaping’s potential to hook teenagers to nicotine, the same day the FDA criticized the marketing practices of Juul Labs – the country’s largest e-cigarette producer – and threatened to fine them and seize their products.

On Sept. 16, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot called for a ban on flavored e-cigarettes, calling them a “gateway” to nicotine addiction, according to the Chicago Tribune

In August, Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim filed a lawsuit against Juul, alleging the company is creating a public health crisis by deceptively marketing their products to teenagers.

Chicago City Council passed an e-cigarette tax hike in October 2018, citing public health concerns. Former Mayor Rahm Emanuel said at the time the ordinance was aimed at “supporting youth to make healthy choices — and protecting residents from tobacco.”

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