Durbin introduces e-cigarette legislation to crack down on kid-friendly flavorings

CHICAGO (WLS) -- E-cigarettes are now more popular among teens than traditional cigarettes, with over 2 millions teenagers using them last year. In fact, they are the most commonly used tobacco product among young people.

Now Senator Dick Durbin says he wants to stop the products from appealing to kids.

The senator was joined by the Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health and others. On Monday he announced legislation to crack down on kid-friendly flavorings in highly-addictive e-cigarettes and cigars.

The senator noted, while the number of people smoking traditional cigarettes is decreasing, the use of e-cigarettes and cigars is on the rise. There has been a 653 percent increase from just five years ago.

Made to look like a flash drive, some e-cigarettes are well-concealed. It is one of the biggest problems school officials are dealing with regarding young people and vaping. Kids as young as middle schoolers are bringing them into school, and vaping in between classes or worse.

"They are very, very bold, in the hallway, in class, up their sleeve, if you don't pay attention to the vapor cloud you miss it," said Linda Vollinger with the Illinois Association of School Nurses.

Sen. Durbin believes marketing to young people using flavoring such as cake batter, whipped cream and gummy bears is just one of the culprits for the rise in usage.

"When the people who make these products, like JUUL, insist this is just for adults to quit smoking tobacco products-- bologna, you wouldn't be pedaling these flavors to adults," Sen. Durbin said.

Sen. Durbin is calling it the SAFE Kids Act. The bill would place strong restrictions on e-cigarette flavorings and completely ban flavorings in cigars.

Last week, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan along with 8 other attorneys general urged the FDA to ban flavored tobacco products in e-cigarettes, and cigars.

The legislation would require companies to prove that their products are not geared towards young people. Sen. Durbin hopes to have this bill on the floor this week.

The American Vaping Association says that flavors are critical to helping many adult smokers break their taste for cigarettes and quit smoking.

The association adds: "It's a backdoor attempt by Senator Durbin to ban all flavors in vaping products by imposing costly requirements on manufacturers that are more burdensome than even those imposed on pharmaceutical companies."
Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.