The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill banning the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and tobacco products on Friday, according to The Hill.
Spencer Platt / Getty Images
The bill narrowly passed with a 213-195 vote. The primary reason for polarization was Democrats’ fear that the current structure of the bill unfairly targets African-Americans.
“This legislation has dire, unintended consequences for African Americans,” said Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), a member of the CBC. “Law enforcement would have an additional reason to stop and frisk menthol tobacco users because menthol would be considered illegal under this ban.”
Clarke expanded, adding that the bill exempts products favored by the wealthy white community such as premium cigars.
“The message that we’re sending is that, you know, for poorer communities — communities with less franchise that are gonna be over-policed — we’re going to add an extra burden to them,” Clarke told The Hill on Thursday.
Government data suggests that 5.4 million middle and high school students were using e-cigarettes in 2019.
Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. explained, “We need to ban flavors across the board because that’s what masks the nicotine and makes people think that it’s OK.”
According to The Hill, President Trump’s advisers said Thursday that they will recommend he vetos the bill as it is currently written.