U.S. Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) introduced sweeping federal regulations on e-cigarette products Monday in the wake of hundreds of cases of vaping-related illnesses nationwide.
The legislation, co-sponsored by fellow Long Island U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), would ban all flavored e-cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products, raise the federal tax on cigarettes from $1 to $3 and create a tax on e-cigarette products equivalent to $3 per pack.
The bill also aims to more than double annual funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Office on Smoking and Health from $210 million to $500 million.
Suozzi said in a news release that he has become increasingly concerned by the number of teenagers who use and are becoming addicted to e-cigarettes.
Statistics from the New York State Department of Health show that 40 percent of high school seniors use e-cigarettes and 27 percent of all high school students use the products.
“I’ve become even more disturbed in recent weeks since we’ve learned that hundreds of people have contracted a mysterious vaping-related lung disease that has killed at least seven people,” Suozzi said.
Suozzi and King’s Quell Underage Inhaling of Toxic Substances Act is supported by a number of public health advocacy groups, including the American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and Parents Against Vaping E-Cigarettes among others.
Representatives from Parents Against Vaping E-Cigarettes praised Suozzi for his action.
“Studies also show kids are very price-sensitive,” the organization’s founders, Dorian Fuhrman, Meredith Berkman and Dina Alessi, said in a news release. “The tax suggested by this bill would raise the price of e-cigarettes (among other tobacco products) and make it more difficult for our kids to purchase these highly addictive nicotine-delivery devices.”