Maryland has announced its plan to take a national ban on the sale of e-cigarette flavors a step further.
Retailers that sell tobacco products have been told they can no longer sell disposable e-cigarettes, with the exception of those that are tobacco- or menthol-flavored, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot said Monday in Annapolis.
“These products are sadly the most popular among our children, and we cannot allow them to remain on the market any longer,” he said.
Disposable e-cigarettes gained popularity after the Food and Drug Administration banned the sale of most flavored e-cigarette cartridges, Franchot said. Expanding the ban in Maryland to include disposable vaping devices closes a loophole that he said was created by the national ban.
The FDA ban on flavored cartridges other than tobacco- and menthol-flavored ones came after nationwide reports of lung illness linked to vaping.
“It’s just not acceptable to stand by for a day longer or an hour longer before we do something about what is a true public health emergency happening in real-time, right in front of our eyes,” Franchot said.
According to the state, more than 8,400 retailers are licensed to sell tobacco products in Maryland, and many sell the flavored disposable devices. With the directive sent to retailers, the state will now inspect stores for them.
If any are found, they could be seized, and the store could be subject to disciplinary action.
Jeffrey Kelly, director of the comptroller’s field enforcement division, said inspectors have been trained on spotting the products.
“Right now, we’re going to make a strong effort to get to as many as possible in the short term here while the message is out there and it’s hot,” Kelly said.
Franchot is hopeful retailers will immediately remove these items from their inventory.
“These retail stores don’t want to be in violation of their licences with us, so I assume they’re going to be responsive and pull these things off their shelves voluntarily,” he said.
Franchot understands that the products are used by some people to kick the habit of smoking, which is why the ban will not target tobacco- or menthol-flavored disposable e-cigarettes.
“Kids will not use a tobacco-flavored product because it’s repulsive,” Franchot said.
Legal pushback from e-cigarette manufacturers is possible, he said, but his office believes the state is on solid legal ground with their ban, because e-cigarettes are not approved by the FDA.
Franchot plans to introduce other proposals for new laws to decrease the use of e-cigarettes by minors next week. And he said the rules could become stricter, if proposed legislation in the Maryland General Assembly becomes law.