House Votes to Ban Flavors in Cigarettes and E-Cigarettes

WASHINGTON — The House, taking aim at youth vaping and tobacco use, voted Friday to ban the sale of flavored cigarettes and e-cigarette liquids, even as civil rights advocates and some African-American Democrats raised concerns that the legislation unfairly targeted black people.

The bill is aimed at curbing what public health experts see as an epidemic of youth vaping by banning online sales of e-cigarettes, as well as liquid flavors like mint, mango, cotton candy and bubble gum. But it also bans flavors in regular cigarettes, including menthol, which is popular among African-Americans.

That goes further than a partial ban announced by President Trump last month, which would forbid the sale of most flavored e-cigarette cartridges, but exempt menthol and other tobacco flavors. The bill’s fate in the Senate is unclear in the Senate, where Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader who represents the tobacco-producing state of Kentucky, has not given any indication that he would bring it up for a vote.

The House measure passed by a vote of 213-195 that ran largely along party lines, with all but five Republicans and some Democrats from tobacco-producing states voting against it. Opponents argued that it amounted to unnecessary overreach by “big government, liberal elites, telling adults what they cannot do,” as Representative Richard Hudson, Republican of North Carolina, said on the House floor.

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