Feb. 28 (UPI) — The House on Friday passed a bill banning the sale of flavored cigarettes and e-cigarettes as part of an effort to curb youth use of tobacco products.
The legislation passed with a 213-195 vote, with a contingency of Democrats from the Congressional Black Caucus siding with Republicans in the vote. Black lawmakers said the ban could bring disproportionate policing down on African-American communities, despite its good intentions.
“While there are clear health benefits to H.R. 2339, I have real concerns around this bill passing that would negatively impact the black community and communities of color at a higher rate,” Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., said. “A ban that makes an exception for one flavor — premium cigars, which is the preferred flavor of elite white tobacco users — while banning the preferred ‘flavor’ of black tobacco users, menthol, is unjust.”
Other members of the CBC, though, said the ban would protect African-American lives.
“I’m not here to target people of color,” Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, who voted in favor, said. “I’m here to save lives.”
The legislation is more restrictive than the ban the Trump administration announced earlier this year. The Food and Drug Administration in January ordered companies to cease the manufacture, distribution and sale of unauthorized flavored cartridge-based e-cigarettes — with the exception of tobacco and menthol flavors by the end of the month.
The House bill bans all vaping and tobacco-related products — not just vaping devices. It also bans all menthol products.