ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — A state task force has come up with a dozen recommendations that would regulate the electronic cigarette industry in an effort to prevent e-cigarettes and other products from getting into the hands of those under 21.
The state’s E-Facts Task Force met for the final time Monday afternoon to hear legislative recommendations on how to better regulate the industry.
“Literally, in real-time, we are addicting an entire generation of young people,” state Comptroller Peter Franchot said.
Among the recommendations are a ban on direct-to-consumer sales of all electronic smoking devices, increased fines for “straw buyers” who buy e-cigarettes for underage people and a requirement that retailers use ID scanners for each sale of tobacco and e-cigarette products.
“We have got to look at our children first and how we’re going to protect them from vaping,” Sen. Benjamin Kramer (D-Montgomery County) said.
Some of the proposals have created concerns among retailers.
“It could be a very tricky situation coming up with the state as far as taxing laws and things because they’re not protecting the independent businessman. They’re going after them and going after them strong,” said wholesaler David Sadugor.
Task force members were also concerned about creating a black market if products are regulated too heavily.
Franchot argued many of the products are used to quit smoking but have other consequences.
“What went on under the radar screen is an entrance ramp for literally hundreds of thousands of kids ultimately to be exposed to those highly-addictive nicotine devices,” he said.
The comptroller said the top priority is testing the products.
“Those folks understand that regulation and oversight as far as the ingredients that they’re selling to people is crucial,” he said.
The move comes as more people across the country are diagnosed with vaping-related illnesses. Just last week, the comptroller announced the first prohibition in the U.S. of sales of disposable flavored e-cigarettes in an effort to curb the growing number of young adults and kids vaping.
To read the task force’s full recommendations, click here.