WASHINGTON, D.C. - Electronic cigarettes are becoming a popular choice for adults looking to quit traditional cigarette smoking.
But a new report by the Centers for Disease Control regarding
e-cigarette usage among youths has some lawmakers on Capitol Hill
Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown is one of the lawmakers leading the charge.
"450,000 Americans die every year from tobacco-related illnesses, so
big tobacco understands they need at least 450,000 new customers. And
where do they go? They go to kids," Brown (D-OH) said.
Over the years, laws have been passed to help prevent cigarettes from
getting into the wrong hands. But now, Brown is turning his attention
towards tobacco-free electronic cigarettes.
"We're afraid with these e-cigarettes, that don't have any rules
around them, that they're going to, with their very sophisticated,
highly paid executives and marketers, figure out ways to get more kids
addicted to these and use it as a ‘gateway drug' to get into cigarette
smoking at a young age," Brown said.
Brown and 11 other lawmakers sent this letter to several e-cigarette
manufacturers asking them for information regarding the sale,
distribution, labeling, and marketing of their products to children and
They cited a recent Centers for Disease Control report showing a dramatic increase in e-cigarette use among kids.
"Yes, the popularity of e-cigarettes has grown among young people,"
said Elaine Keller, of the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free
Alternatives Association. "But, at the same time, the rates of smoking,
and the rates of initiation of smoking, have gone way down."
Keller studied the CDC report, and said the numbers could be misleading.
"The problem is, they use the word ‘use' very loosely. You and I
would think of ‘use' as something used frequently or daily. They are
talking about ever used," she said.
Keller credits her e-cigarette usage – called ‘vaping' – for helping her quit cigarette smoking after 45 years.
Right now, the Food and Drug Administration is in the process of
deciding how it will regulate e-cigarettes. Keller said she hopes it
will not impact her usage.
"We need regulations that are sensible and that don't impact the
pricing so that they cost more than smoking and don't impact the
acceptability of them to smokers, so that they'll switch to them instead
of continuing to smoke," Keller said.
Brown said he just wants to see better marketing.
"I'm not advocating banning them; I'm just advocating they don't target children," he said.
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