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Lawmakers introduce bill taxing e-cigarettes to pay for anti-vaping campaigns

Bipartisan lawmakers Friday introduced a bill that would tax e-cigarette companies and use the funds to pay for anti-vaping programs in schools. 

Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) and Pete King (R-N.Y.) introduced the Providing Resources to End the Vaping Epidemic Now for Teenagers (Prevent) Act in the House to help combat a youth vaping trend that has been dubbed an epidemic by the surgeon general, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Department of Health and Human Services. 

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the Senate minority whip, introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

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“To reverse this extremely disturbing trend, the bipartisan and bicameral PREVENT Act will educate youth about the dangers of e-cigarette use by providing students, parents and school personnel the vital resources they need to prevent e-cigarette use on the ground. Importantly, this legislation requires the e-cigarette companies — not taxpayers or consumers — to foot the bill,” said Krishnamoorthi. 

“This legislation will go a long way to ensuring our children and adolescents are not being exposed to the dangers of vaping and nicotine addiction. I am proud to work with Rep. Krishnamoorthi and Senator Durbin to end this epidemic and ensure the well-being of our youth,” added King.

The lawmakers estimated that the fees imposed on manufacturers and importers of electronic nicotine delivery systems would net $200 million, which would then be directed to the CDC and FDA to craft programs to prevent e-cigarette use at schools. 

The legislation requires the prevention programs to train school personnel to identify and better prevent youth vaping, conduct social media and marketing campaigns to educate students on health risks of e-cigarettes and provide resources to help treat youth nicotine addiction, among other things. 

The bill also allows state and local health agencies and nonprofits that work with underserved populations to apply with the CDC for grants to carry out the prevention programs at middle and high schools. 

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The new bill is endorsed by a litany of organizations, including the Campaign for Tobacco- Kids, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Partnership for Drug- Kids and more.

Taking action to prevent youth vaping has become a top priority in Washington amid warnings from government agencies and a rash of illnesses across the country connected to e-cigarettes.

President Trump initially vowed to ban flavored e-cigarette products to curtail their appeal among teens, but later retreated after a backlash from vapers, conservative groups and the industry that say the devices are effective alternatives to cigarettes. 

An estimated 27.5 percent of high school students and 10.5 percent of middle school students said they had used e-cigarettes in the past month, according to a study conducted by government researchers.

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