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Amid rising concerns about the risk of addiction from JUUL and other popular e-cigarettes, especially among teens and prior non-smokers, federal lawmakers have introduced a new bill that would limit the amount of nicotine that can be used in vaping products.
U.S. Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, of Illinois, introduced the “END ENDS Act” on Monday, which would cap nicotine concentrations in e-cigarettes to 20 milligrams per milliliter, as part of an effort to make vaping less addictive.
The same cap is already in place in the European Union, but manufacturers are not subject to the same requirements in the United States, where some devices, such as the popular JUUL pods, include up to 59 mg/ml.
The legislation also gives more power to the FDA to regulate e-cigarettes’ nicotine levels, design and functions.
Krishnamoorthi said in a tweet that the bill “presents a common-sense solution to the youth vaping epidemic that has already shown success abroad.”
The bill was introduced days after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an update on the e-cigarette illness outbreak, which is suspected in 1,080 illnesses and 18 deaths nationwide.
The outbreak was first reported by health officials in Krishnamoorthi’s home state of Illinois, as well as Wisconsin only two months ago, after several cases of severe lung injury were identified, where e-cigarettes were the only common factor. However, since then, health officials nationwide have either identified similar cases, or realized they had treated similar cases without knowing about the e-cigarette connection.
The legislation also comes following reports of increased teen vaping in the last several years. One national survey indicated that a quarter of high school students in the U.S. admitted to having vaped in the last 30 days.
Krishnamoorthi is leading a House investigation into teen vaping and addiction. On September 19, he and Senator Dick Durbin, also of Illinois, launched the Congressional Caucus to End the Youth Vaping Epidemic, a congressional forum focused on coming up with solutions to the underage vaping problem.
“For far too long, e-cigarette manufacturers have illegally advertised their products and profited on the backs of American youth,” Raja Krishnamoorthi in a press release. “I am honored to launch the premiere forum in Congress for like-minded members, on both sides of the aisle, to work together to combat the growing youth e-cigarette epidemic and to protect children and teens from the dangers of nicotine addiction.”
However, other states and the federal government are also taking other actions. In response to the epidemic-levels of e-cigarette use reported among the nation’s youth, a number of state and federal officials have also announced new plans to ban certain flavored vaping products.
Bans have been announced in Michigan, New York and California, and federal regulators say a national flavored e-cigarette ban is in the works. In addition, a temporary ban has been declared in Massachusetts.
A growing number of JUUL addiction lawsuits are also now being pursued agains the manufacturers, alleging that the products were illegally marketed to kids while failing to disclose that each of the e-cigarette pods contain more nicotine than a pack of tobacco cigarettes.