Franchot’s E-Cig Task Force Set to Kick Off Next Week

    State Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot (D) said Tuesday that he will convene the first meeting of the e-facts Task Force on Electronic Smoking Devices (ESDs) on Dec. 3 at the University of Maryland, College Park.

    The membership roster includes stakeholders from across Maryland, including public health experts, industry representatives, business owners, educators, students and elected officials from both parties.

    Citing an alarming number of reports about serious illnesses, lung disease and deaths that are attributable to vaping, Franchot in October announced the creation of the e-facts task force to examine the public health and safety implications of electronic smoking devices.

    As Maryland’s chief tobacco industry regulator, the comptroller is charged with safeguarding public health, protecting consumers and keeping dangerous products out of the hands of children.

    Meetings will continue into early 2020 with a goal of producing a final report and submitting suggested legislation to the Maryland General Assembly during the upcoming legislative session.

    According to the comptroller’s office, the objectives of the task force are:

    • To achieve a better understanding of the nature and characteristics of ESDs, including the distinctions between various products within the marketplace;
    • To gain a comprehensive picture of the public health and safety impacts of ESDs and commercial effects of product sales in Maryland;
    • To recommend new and stronger laws to ensure that consumers — particularly young people — are protected.

    The first meeting will take place at 2:30 p.m. in the Colonial Room of the Adele H. Stamp Student Center on the College Park campus.

    Besides Franchot, members of the task force are:

    — Max Behlke, director of State Public Policy, JUUL Labs

    — John Brennan, assistant secretary, Maryland Dept. of
    Disabilities

    — Queen Anne’s County Commissioner Christopher M. Corchiano (R)

    — Jennifer Witten Davis, Maryland Hospital Association

    — Carl DeLorenzo, director of Policy & Programs, Howard County Executive’s Office

    — Letitia Dzirasa, Health commissioner, City of Baltimore

    — Dane Foust, vice president for Student Affairs, Salisbury University

    — Panagis Galiatsatos, co-founder and co-director,
    Medicine for the Greater Good

    — Travis Gayles, Health Officer, Montgomery County

    — Jeff Graham, vice president for Student Affairs, Frostburg State University

    — Brandon Hatton, senior regional manager, State Affairs,
    JUUL Labs

    — Teresa Healey-Conway, executive director, Anne Arundel & Howard Medical Societies

    — Kathleen Hoke, professor, University of Maryland School of Law

    — Montgomery County Councilmember Tom Hucker (D)

    — Amanda Howard, student, Johns Hopkins University

    — Lea Jaspers, health education specialist, Maryland Department of Education

    — Nilesh Kalyanaraman, health officer, Anne Arundel County

    — Vicki Keller, tobacco programs manager, Baltimore County Department of Health

    — Ryan Kennedy, assistant professor, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

    — Lauren Levy, health officer, Cecil County Health Department

    — Kirk McCauley, director, Member & Government Relations,
    Washington, Maryland, Delaware Service
    Station and Automotive Repair Association

    — Matt Milby, vice president, Maryland Vapor Alliance

    — Cliff Mitchell, director, Environmental Health Bureau
    Prevention, Maryland Department of Health

    — Baltimore City Councilman Leon Pinkett (D)

    — Laurence Polsky, health officer, Calvert County Health Department

    — Maura Rossman, health officer, Howard County

    — David Sadugor, vice president, Century Distributors

    — Allegany County Commissioner Jacob Shade (R)

    — Oscar Taube, M.D., chairman of the Committee on
    Adolescence, Maryland Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics

    — Olivia Veira, teacher, Baltimore City Public Schools

    — Christian Walker, student, Harford County Public Schools

    — Ronald Ward Jr., owner and operator, The Vaper’s Edge, Parkville

    — Julian “Blackie” Wills, executive vice president, The Wills Group

    — Mary Yeager, owner and operator, The Vaper’s Ring, Severna Park

    Franchot’s commission also leaves room for four state legislators to serve, but so far, the legislature’s presiding officers have not decided whether to appoint lawmakers to the commission, representatives for House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) said Tuesday.

    The timing of the commission’s work is tricky, given the January-April run time of the General Assembly session, the representatives said, and lawmakers in both chambers are already introducing legislation that would ban certain vaping products.

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    Josh Kurtz
    Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.