East TN reacts to House approval of bill banning sale of flavored tobacco products

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill Friday that would ban the sale of flavored tobacco products, like menthol cigarettes and flavored e-cigarettes.

WATE 6 On Your Side reporter Elizabeth Kuebel heard what some in our area think about the new legislation. Some are standing firmly behind this move, while others have mixed emotions.

The bill still has to go before the Senate but what the House approved would place new restrictions on the marketing of e-cigarettes and ban flavors in tobacco products.

The owner of Smoky’s Tobacco and Cigars, Dave Watson, has closely watched the legislation and says he views it with mixed emotions.

“They finally have recognized that there is a difference. That premium cigars are not vape. Premium cigars are not flavored cigars, premium cigars do not fit the categories of what young people are out to buy,” Watson said.

That’s what he called a good part of the bill, but he explained what he views the bad part. “If you have a flavored pipe tobacco, that’s lumped in with vape, that’s lumped in with flavored cigars, and so that’s a bad thing because it’s not clear. We have people making these decisions that don’t understand the industry or its products,” he said.

“This move is a step in the right direction for public health and to protect our adolescents,” said Stephanie Strutner, Executive Director of ASAP of Anderson.

The group aims to reduce and prevent substance misuse in Anderson County, even recently heading to Washington to advocate for vaping legislation.

“The more we can limit the flavored, whether its traditional tobacco or the e-cigarette pods, the fewer adolescents are going to engage in the initiation of use. And the longer we can delay initiation, we know science supports the fewer people are going to continue using throughout their lifetime,” Strutner said. “Any decision that our leaders make that supports and enables younger people to make healthy choices is something that we can always support.”

The House approved the bill, 213-195, sending it to the Senate, where approval is considered unlikely.

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