Smoke Free Schools Act of 2018: The anti-vaping bill with an intentionally misleading name
Two U.S. senators from opposite sides of the political aisle have recently combined forces to introduce a new bipartisan bill aimed at helping school districts battle teen vaping. The Smoke Free Act of 2018 would instruct the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to partner with other government agencies to implement a standard set of best practices for vaping awareness, education, and prevention.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Education will also be involved in the crafting of these new guidelines which will theoretically focus on underage vaping prevention and education for middle and high schoolers as well as child care facilities. Senators Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) and Orin Hatch (R-Utah) are responsible for the bill’s bipartisan introduction to the senate floor on December 4, 2018.
Overview of The Smoke Free Act of 2018
The bill supports FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s multiple previous claims that teen vaping has become a national “epidemic.” It also discusses the potential dangers of nicotine addiction for persons under that age of 18 while referencing an unsubstantiated increase in teen smoking in recent years. However, a CDC report newly published on November 8, 2018, indicates that both adult and teen smoking rates are at their lowest point in recorded history.
Other highlights of The Smoke Free Act of 2018 include the following.
- Establishes guidelines which would grant local school districts and educational facilities maximum flexibility to use government-provided funds to fight teen vaping.
- Amends the Pro-Children Act of 2001 to include vaping and electronic cigarettes in any smoking bans. Currently, smoking (and now vaping, if the bill passes) is prohibited in any federally-funded agency or facility providing children’s services of any kind.
- Instructs the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to include vaping in any federally-funded research involving the advertising effects of combustible tobacco products.
- Allows state and local government agencies to use federal grant funding provided by ESEA Title IV Part A and Part B to battle underage vaping through more traditional drug and alcohol addiction styled prevention programs.
The bill comes as a response to a constant onslaught of criticism led chiefly by FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb against the vaping industry in recent months. Gottlieb’s resentments seem to focus primarily on Juul and other flavored vapor products utilizing marketing and social media campaigns which he deems too “kid-appealing.”
After opening an official FDA probe into the matter over the summer, Gottlieb’s aggressive anti-vaping stance only seemed to strengthen. By mid-November, the FDA officially banned the sales of all flavored vaping products sold through conventional brick-and-mortar retailers. Meanwhile, Juul Labs simultaneously and abruptly ceased all social media activity except for limited engagement on Twitter.
Within hours of the FDA announcement to ban flavored vapes, Gottlieb again took to mainstream media with another, more severe threat against vaping. On CNBC’s Squawk Box, he stated that he expects to witness an “astonishing” drop in teen vaping almost immediately. And if he doesn’t, then the FDA may consider banning the sales of flavored vapor products entirely– including those sold online and even those now being sold legally to adult vapers.
Senators Hatch and Udall appear to be jumping onboard the anti-vaping bandwagon by introducing this cleverly-worded, anti-vaping bill with the intentionally misleading name. The Smoke Free Act of 2018 has nothing to do whatsoever with smoking. The name is perfectly selected to appeal to a broad range of voters regardless of political party. By equating smoking with vaping once again, the political establishment in Washington, D.C. is systematically miseducating the American public for purely political gain.
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