Dems suspicious of McConnell bill attempting to make teen vaping a federal crime
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-KY) is spearheading a new legislative proposal that attempts to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco and e-cigarette products from 18 to 21 nationwide. If the bill passes both houses of congress and is signed into law by Mr. Trump, then teen vaping will quite literally become a federal crime.
McConnell took to the senate floor last week to make his announcement officially, and the mainstream media ran with it. With teen vaping being blasted as a national epidemic by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration throughout much of 2018 and beyond, the bill initially gained significant bipartisan support. This week, however, new challenges have arisen which could threaten to defeat the legislation before it even gets a vote.
Kentucky and Virginia: Deep in the heart of Tobacco County
McConnel was joined in the bipartisan effort when former Democratic Vice President candidate and Virginia Senator Tim Kaine signed on as a bill co-sponsor. Coincidently, both states that McConnell and Kain represent just happen to be the largest producers of tobacco in the country. However, several of Kaine’s Democratic allies are now second-guessing whether to support the proposal.
Related Article: The McConnel Bill: Making teen vaping a federal crime
The focus of disagreement appears to be hidden within the fine print. Democratic senators Dick Durban of Illinois and Brian Schatz of Hawaii are concerned with specific language that requires each of the 50 states to raise their legal purchasing age to 21 or forfeit their claims to federal funding for substance abuse and treatment programs. They also appear to be questioning McConnell and Kain’s close ties to Big Tobacco. Both Durban and Schatz issued a joint statement just this morning which landed in a Newsweek report.
“We are proud that 14 states have already done this—but forcing state action creates a dangerous loophole that gives the tobacco industry an opening to intensify their efforts at the state level to undermine strong anti-tobacco proposals, such as regulations on flavored tobacco products…Big tobacco’s fingerprints should be nowhere near this effort.”
Durban and Schatz make a valid point. Big Tobacco stands to be the big winner in the event that the McConnell/Kaine bill is signed into law. Raising the legal purchasing age of both vaping and tobacco products will do far more financial harm to an already struggling vaping industry which is also under constant threaten of government over-regulation by the Nanny State. Tobacco manufacturers already have both the money and the political clout to weather these types of storms, and McConnell and Kaine are living proof of the latter.
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