Maryland task force outlines a plan to curb vaping

A week after Maryland’s comptroller announced expanding a ban on flavored electronic cigarettes to include many flavors of disposable devices, a state task force has more recommendations to keep vaping devices away from younger people.

After evaluating the e-cigarette industry and regulations in other states, the task force created by Comptroller Peter Franchot came up with 12 recommendations that he said could be implemented by the comptroller’s office or through legislation.

The first recommendation targets online sales of vaping devices.

“You could require written identification and ID for people that these internet products are sent to, or we could just ban the internet sales of e-cigarettes like we do for tobacco,” Franchot said.

The goal of this recommendation, according to the report, is to ensure all sales of electronic smoking devices are done face to face.

The task force also believes only “vape shop vendors” should be allowed to sell the devices, and that anyone who enters a shop should be 21 or older. Designated “vape shops” would also not be able to sell any other tobacco products.

The task force also believes companies that make vaping devices should be required to provide the state with a list of ingredients for the products they sell. And it calls for the state to allow for field testing of the devices.

Another recommendation calls for the state to create separate licenses with stepped-up fees for electronic smoking device (ESD) manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers. (Currently, tobacco license holders can also sell e-cigarettes.) There is also a call for retailers to have ID scanning technology and for them to undergo state training about the dangers of e-cigarettes.

Maryland is also urged to amend state law to put it in compliance with federal law, which sets the minimum age to purchase tobacco and vaping devices to 21.

Maryland’s Clean Indoor Air Quality Act prohibits smoking in public meeting places, public transportation vehicles, and indoor places of employment. One recommendation calls for the law to be amended to include emissions from vaping devices.

Tougher punishment for so-called “straw buyers” is also in the final report.

“We want to make sure we crack down on adults going in and deliberately using their age to be able to buy products and then go out and give them to kids,” Franchot said.

Also, public shaming of “bad actors” was recommended — with the names of people and businesses caught selling to minors being listed on the comptroller’s website.

“A lot of these recommendations are enforceable through regulatory action on our own, and we’re going to take action on that fairly quickly,” Franchot said.

The final recommendation targets schools and urges statewide policies be developed so teachers and administrators know what to do when they encounter students vaping.

Franchot said it is important that these recommendations move forward.

“Right under the radar, tens of thousands of kids are currently addicted to nicotine that never would have been without vaping coming on the scene,” Franchot said.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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