With the support of Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, the Delaware Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement (DATE) and the Delaware Division of Public Health, State Representative Deborah Hudson (R-Fairthorne) and Senator Patricia Blevins (D-Elsmere) today announced that they will be introducing legislation aimed at protecting Delaware youth against the potentially harmful effects of mechanical tobacco substitutes known as “electronic cigarettes” or “e-cigs.”
Under the bill, a person would be prohibited from selling or distributing these e-cigarettes – also defined as “tobacco substitutes” – to minors. The bill also prohibits minors from purchasing the products. State Representatives Michael Barbieri, Paul Baumbach, Debra Heffernan, Joe Miro and Mike Ramone are also co-prime sponsors of the legislation, which will be formally filed today.
E-cigarettes have become increasingly popular, with sales for e-cigarettes having doubled each year since 2008. Only a few clinical studies have been conducted on e-cigarettes so far in which there is no definitive answer yet on the health effects of e-cigarettes, prompting the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to state that consumers of e-cigarette products have no way of knowing “whether e-cigarettes are safe for their intended use, how much nicotine or other potentially harmful chemicals are being inhaled during use, or if there are any benefits associated with using these products.”
Additionally, in 2009, the FDA analyzed two brands of e-cigarettes and found that they did contain trace elements of hazardous compounds found in antifreeze. As a result, 41 Attorneys General – including Delaware Attorney General Biden – urged the FDA last September to test and regulate e-cigarettes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the percentage of U.S. high school and middle school students using e-cigarettes doubled between 2011 and 2012. The National Youth Tobacco Survey shows that the percentage of high school students reporting ever using e-cigarettes jumped from 4.7 percent in 2011 to 10 percent in 2012 and an estimated 1.8 million young people are reported as trying e-cigarettes in 2012. A recent study of Delaware students also found that, among students first smoking cigarettes, e-cigarette users are far more likely to continue smoking cigarettes than non e-cigarette users.
Rep. Hudson said, “Currently, it is legal for a 14-year-old to walk into a neighborhood store or gas station and buy an e-cigarette. The unregulated product is being marketed to minors. Some companies sell the vapor device with flavors of liquid nicotine in the cartridge, further appealing to our youth. Flavors include cotton candy, bubble gum and fruit loops.”
Rep. Hudson further stated, “Until the FDA regulates the nicotine level and other additives, minors should be prohibited from this practice of ‘vaping.’ A secondary health issue is that e-cigs may be considered a ‘gateway drug’ due to the content of the liquid nicotine – a highly addictive product.”
Senator Blevins said, “Tobacco substitutes such as electronic cigarettes are becoming a very popular method of nicotine usage in the United States. While they are often billed as safe alternatives to traditional cigarettes, the long term effects of e-cigarettes have not been determined. What we do know is that nicotine is addictive. By banning the sale and distribution of electronic cigarettes to minors, we can protect our youth from this addictive substance. It’s time we took this step.”
Attorney General Biden said, “Keeping children from purchasing electronic cigarettes will protect their health. The increase in the number of children who are using electronic cigarettes is concerning and we need to act. Bright-colored packaging and sweet flavors cannot mask the dangerous and addictive substances found in electronic cigarettes.”
Delaware Division of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay stated, “Data show that high school students’ use of e-cigarettes has doubled over the course of a year. E-cigarettes are addictive and contain known toxin and carcinogens. We need to send a message that there is no such thing as a ‘safe’ tobacco product and ban e-cigarettes for minors just as we have banned cigarettes.”
DATE Director John Yeomans said, “The mission of the Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement is to protect the health, safety and welfare of people in Delaware through the enforcement of state liquor and youth access to tobacco laws. This revision to include e-cigarettes in our current tobacco laws will help reverse this trend and will allow DATE to continue our work in keeping tobacco and similar products out of the hands of Delaware’s youth.”
At least 27 states prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.
Related Topics: fraud • Protecting Children
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