Oregon's junior U.S. senator, Jeff Merkley, is spurring a bipartisan demand for increased restrictions on vaping products, nearly three weeks after a national outbreak of severe lung illnesses related to vaping has caused national concern among politicians, health agencies and vape users.
U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) today announced a partnership with Merkley (D-Oregon) on Sep. 19 to introduce national legislation that would increase restrictions on the sale and manufacturing of vape products.
Romney tweeted about the legislation and attached a video of himself standing next to an unlikely partner, Merkley, explaining the origins of their legislation.
The legislation is called the Ending New Nicotine Dependencies Act (ENND Act) and includes three main provisions.
The legislation would ban all non-tobacco flavorings added to vaping cartridges, "so our kids aren't attracted to these products in the enormous numbers that they are now," says Romney in the video.
The legislation would ban refillable vape cartridges, and also force manufacturers to make their cartridges tamper-proof by rolling out new standards regarding the design of e-cigarettes. This particular piece of the legislation emerges as national suspicion swirls that extra liquids could be added to vape cartridges, either by the user or by a third-party unknown by the manufacturer—possibly causing the severe respiratory illnesses being reported across the nation.
"These cartridges that can be refilled are a huge temptation to put in other fluids into the cartridges, like THC oil and THC oil that has been diluted by other substances which can be incredibly risky, and maybe responsible for many of the illnesses and many of the deaths that we've seen," Merkley says in the video.
Lastly, the legislation would put the same excise tax on all vaping products that is currently on all tobacco products. Revenue from that additional tax would be funneled into a national campaign to educate kids on the potential dangers of vaping.
Romney calls the vaping illnesses a "national public health concern and crisis."
Merkley says in the clip that "nearly 25 percent of high school kids are vaping, and that means lifelong addiction and enormous health problems that are related to that."