E-Cigarette Bill Would Ban Marketing to Kids

Apr 8, 2014

Credit scyther5/iStock / Thinkstock

Two members of Connecticut's congressional delegation have launched a bill that would ban companies from marketing e-cigarettes to children.

But they ran into some vocal opposition during a press conference to launch the legislation.

Representative Elizabeth Esty joined with Senator Richard Blumenthal in the effort. They want to see a ban on flavors such as bubblegum and gummy bear, that they say are targeted at minors.

Blumenthal recalled the litigation against tobacco companies for appealing to children by using characters like Joe Camel in their ads. "Now big tobacco is buying e-cigarette companies," he told the press conference. "Do you think it is because big tobacco wants to promote smoking cessation? I don't think so. Big tobacco is buying e-cigarette companies to do with modern and up-to-date candy flavored e-cigarettes what it used to do with Joe Camel."

But the legislators were challenged by Gregory Conley, who works for a libertarian think tank called the Heartland Institute. He told Blumenthal he used watermelon flavored e-cigarettes to stop smoking.

"As a former Attorney General and as a lawyer, how can you sponsor a bill that is so blatantly violating the constitution?" Conley asked Blumenthal. "If you go to the FTC's website, they say the reason why they don't regulate alcohol flavors or alcohol in general is because of First Amendment concerns."

Blumenthal responded that there is no constitutional right to sell e-cigarettes and the bill is consistent with First Amendment rights.