He says the panel will examine the effects of electronic smoking devices.
Annapolis, Md (KM) With the increasing number of reports of serious illnesses, lung disease and deaths attributed to vaping, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot says he’s formed a task force to take a look at e-cigarettes and other vaping products. “The purpose of the task force is to bring all the players together: private sector, public sector, health people, to listen and determine the right course of action,” he says. “We will be reporting within in several months, and hopefully we will be able to at least stimulate the legislature to do what is possible regarding oversight.”
Franchot says there’s a major concern about vaping products because so little is known about their nature and characteristics. “Everyone has got some real serious concerns right now about vaping because there are all of illnesses, lasting inquiries and deaths, frankly, that are being reported across the country as the result of vaping products,,” he says.
In addition,k Franchot says he’s also concerned about young people who vape or use e-cigarettes. He says these young people find “these new products very, very attractive. Young people are running to begin vaping, and that’s really setting off some alarm bells for me.”
Right now, there are no laws regulating these products. “I was frankly stunned about the absence of sensible laws and regulations to govern these products, how they’re distributed and sold and what’s in them,” says Franchot.
The Comptroller’s Office has the job of regulating and taxing tobacco sales, but it has no such authority when it comes to e-cigarettes or vaping products. “Ironically, e-cigarettes, as these things are called, are not considered cigarettes under Maryland law. So that would need to be changed,” says Franchot.
But he says he’s more concerned about the health issues connected with vaping. The charge of the task force is to achieve a better understanding of the nature and characteristics of electronic smoking devices, and that includes the differences between various products on the market. Another task is to gain a comprehensive picture of the public health and safety of electronic smoking devices, and the commercial effects of products sales in Maryland. And, finally, to recommend new and stronger laws to make sure consumers, especially young people, are protected.
Franchot notes that Massachusetts recently put a temporary ban in place for vaping products and e-cigarettes. “I’m not suggesting that we would come up with, but everything will be on the table,” he says.
The task force will consist of two elected officials from both the House of Delegates and the State Senate. Other members will represent local governments, the public health profession, public health and safety experts, Maryland’s business and industry representatives, and the education community. Franchot says the goal will be to draft proposals to present to the 2020 General Assembly Session.
“We’re going to have four meetings. Hopefully, by the first month of session, we will have finished. And hopefully, it will be product that will help the policymakers decide what, if anything, should be done,” says Franchot. “But I emphasize to folks that everything’s on the table.”
By Kevin McManus