While the FDA’s restrictions on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, issued in January of this year only prohibits the sale of flavored cartridge-based (closed system) e-cigarette products other than menthol or tobacco flavor, states are taking their own regulatory action to pass more comprehensive flavor bans. This month, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, who is in charge of regulating tobacco products and licensing tobacco retailers in the state of Maryland, instructed his Field Enforcement Division to stop the sale of flavored disposable e-cigarettes, a product type that is otherwise exempt from the new federal regulations around flavored tobacco and nicotine products. While tobacco and menthol flavored disposable e-cigarettes can continue to be sold in the state, the ban on the sale of all other flavored disposable vaping products began immediately with the Field Enforcement Division being instructed to conduct product inspections and license checks upon initial announcement of the ban. In his statement, Comptroller Franchot deemed disposable e-cigarettes an “entrance ramp for young people”. He also recognized that while flavored disposable e-cigarettes proportionally comprise a small percentage of flavored product sales compared to flavored e-liquids and menthol cigarettes, their low price, tantalizing flavor profiles, and continued availability make them more and more attractive to youth. The 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey supports this claim, evidencing that disposable e-cigarette devices are the most popular e-cigarette devices among high school students after Juul.
The Comptroller’s task force, which was formed in October 2019 to examine the effects of vaping and e-cigarettes, also released a report recommending twelve regulatory changes to protect the health of the public, and more specifically youth, from the dangers of tobacco products. Some of these suggested measures include establishing more comprehensive licensing, raising the age to purchase tobacco products to align with the federal age of 21, and restricting the sale of flavored e-liquids to vape shops that require patrons be 21 years of age to enter. Whether these will be implemented by the Comptroller’s office, through legislation, or at all is yet to be determined.