It’s charged with developing recommendations to present to the General Assembly.
College Park, Md (KM) The first meeting of the e-facts Task Force was held on Tuesday at the University of Maryland’s College Park Campus. The panel was formed by Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot to examine the use of e-cigarettes and vaping, and come up with recommendations which could include regulating these devices.
Franchot says the industry has advertised electronic smoking devices and vaping as safe alternatives to cigarettes. But he says it’s a public health issue. “To protect not just our young people–we obviously want to protect young people who are underage–but also adults who may lured into using vaping thinking it’s a healthier alternative to cigarettes,” he says.
During the meeting, Franchot says a lot of “eye-opening information” was presented. “Maryland is at risk to doing a huge disservice to an entire generation of young people who think that vaping is safe when in fact, it’s the opposite,” he says.
He noted that there’s been a large number of serious illnesses, lung disease and deaths attributed to vapting, and there’s a concern about too many young people using these products. “The State of Maryland is dropping the ball as far a whole generation of young people growing up now vaping in the bathrooms of high schools and, increasingly, middle schools,” Franchot says.
The Maryland Comptroller’s Office is charged with regulating tobacco products, but not electronic smoking device. Franchot says his office is ready if it receives that responsibility in the future. “We’re going to have to do it because right now there is zero, goose egg, nada, nothing as far as regulation of these devices,” he says.
The Task Force is expected to hold three more meetings before putting together recommendations to present to the 2020 Maryland General Assembly, which begins its session on Wednesday, January 8th.
By Kevin McManus