The legislature’s Finance Committee moved forward Monday with a modified proposal to ban flavored vape products in Connecticut, scrapping a provision that would have also prohibited the sale of flavored tobacco products.
During a 45-minute debate, Rep. Sean Scanlon, a Guilford Democrat who co-chairs the committee, said he supported the ban as a former smoker who was hooked on cigarettes at a young age.
“There is evidence mounting that shows that flavors like cotton candy and things of that nature, that are enticing-sounding, certainly do make them more attractive to young people,” Scanlon said.
The change removing the bill’s ban on flavored tobacco products like menthol cigarettes significantly reduces the fiscal impact of the legislation. The proposal had been expected to result in a $108 million loss in revenue by its second year. Scanlon said the amended proposal will only see a $2.5 million decline that year.
Several proponents of the original bill objected to the change but supported the modified proposal as a step towards protecting young people.
“I wish we could do the whole bill,” Rep. Mary Mushinsky, D-Wallingford, said. “But I’d rather get the kids protected than do nothing. If that’s what we’ve got to do on this committee, that’s what I’ll do, but I’m not giving up on trying to protect the adults if we have to do it another year.”
Others on the committee said it was already illegal to sell nicotine products to minors and opposed the bill as denying adults the option to purchase flavored vapor products.
“My issue is you’re taking a right away from an adult,” Rep. Nicole Klarides-Ditria, R-Derby, said. “I agree we should make the penalties tougher if they’re sold to under-21 individuals, but I think we’re heading on that wrong path. Are we going to … ban flavored alcohol because that does attract younger individuals? At some point are we going to ban french fries and milkshakes? Because those are bad for you as well.”
Scanlon said that Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island had already adopted similar prohibitions on flavored vapor products.
“We’re a little late to the party. We would join every single other state that borders us in doing that by passing this bill,” he said.
Menthol cigarettes are the last legal flavored cigarettes. Congress banned all other cigarette flavors in 2009 and directed the FDA to study menthol flavoring.
Click here to read more about the menthol debate.