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Children’s health advocates want Lamont to ban flavored e-cigarettes this session

Steven Senne

Lawmakers and children’s health advocates urged Governor Ned Lamont on Wednesday to join surrounding states in banning flavored vape products popular with teens.

According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, flavored vapes have fueled an e-cigarette epidemic. About 20% of high school students and 5% of middle school students use e-cigarettes.

Kevin O’Flaherty, the campaign’s director of advocacy, said the reason teenagers use e-cigarettes is because they like the flavors.

“It is so critically important that we follow the lead of our neighboring states, all of whom have ended the sale of flavored e-cigarettes within their borders,” O’Flaherty said. “Somehow, Connecticut has allowed itself to become an island of youth addiction, as we are now the only state in southern New England or the tri-state area that still allows the sale of these products.”

Dr. Saud Anwar, a state senator who chairs the committee on children, blamed e-cigarette companies advertising for teenage addiction in Connecticut.

“One of the most addictive chemicals known to mankind is nicotine,” said Dr. Anwar, who specializes in lung disease. “These flavored products and the companies that have been pushing them, if you look at their marketing data for the past few years, it has been nothing short of being called criminal. Why? Because they have targeted our children.”

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, the use of nicotine in any form is unsafe for children. E-cigarettes contain large doses of nicotine. For example, one Juul pod has 20 times the amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.

In 2019, Lamont signed a law that raised the age of purchasing tobacco to 21 years or older.

The governor indicated as recently as last week that he would sign a bill supporting the ban of flavored vape products. But the state Legislature has failed to pass two previous bills proposed by Lamont.

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.