U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that he is pushing legislation in the Senate that will seek to ban e-cigarette companies from marketing their battery-powered nicotine devices directly to children.
Schumer’s action comes in light of a recent study that revealed that kids who smoke e-cigarettes are more likely to eventually smoke conventional cigarettes than those who do not.
Schumer explained that companies are marketing e-cigarettes directly to children by adding flavors to the products such as vanilla, bubble gum, or cotton candy; and labeling them with names like “e-hookahs” or “vape pens.”
In order to combat these alarming trends, Schumer is co-sponsoring the Protecting Children From Electronic Cigarette Advertising Act of 2014, which seeks to prohibit the marketing of electronic cigarettes to children.
“We have made so much progress over the last decade in keeping cigarettes out of the hands of children, but now e-cigarettes – with their trendy packaging and kid-friendly flavors – are pushing us back in the wrong direction,” said Schumer. “The evidence is clear. E-cigarettes are not harmless; in fact, they are a troubling gateway to conventional smoking for our nation’s kids. We must prevent e-cigarette companies from exploiting our children and marketing directly to them, and this bill will do just that.”
“The Protecting Children from Electronic Cigarette Advertising Act will help protect children from the predatory marketing of e-cigarettes by the tobacco industry,” said Michael Seilback, vice president, Public Policy and Communications for the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “The American Lung Association thanks Senator Chuck Schumer for standing up for our kids.”
“E-cigarette use among our youth is on the rise and a growing health concern,” said Susan Kennedy, director of the Tobacco Action Coalition of Long Island. “It is important that we take action to keep these harmful products out of the hands of our children. We applaud the senator for his leadership on this issue.”
According to a study published recently in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics, electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use is associated with higher odds of conventional smoking. Specifically, as it relates to e-cigarette usage among kids, the study concluded that “use of e-cigarettes does not discourage, and may encourage, conventional cigarette use among U.S. adolescents.”
In fact, according to the same study, kids who smoke e-cigarettes are seven times more likely to smoke conventional cigarettes at some point in their lives than those who do not.
This is especially alarming since studies also show conventional cigarette use is declining, especially in New York. As kids get hooked on this new gateway device, the progress made on limiting conventional smoking could revers itself in the coming years.
Since e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco they are not subject to the same laws around marketing to children that conventional cigarettes are, and many e-cigarette companies have begun to exploit this loophole by marketing their products directly to children.
They have begun targeting kids in various ways: through advertisements, by adding flavors to their products – some as kid-friendly as bubble gum or cotton candy – and by not clearly referring to their products as cigarettes – some call them “hookah pens” or “e-vapes.”
The overwhelming data about the negative impact that e-cigarettes are having on our children has led Schumer to push legislation in the Senate, called the Protecting Children From Electronic Cigarette Advertising Act of 2014, to combat the predatory marketing trend. This bill will require the Federal Trade Commission to prohibit the advertising, promoting, and marketing of electronic cigarettes in a manner that the company knows or should know will have the effect of increasing the use of an electronic cigarette by a child.
The bill, which is also sponsored by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ed Markey (D-MA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), has been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that are designed to resemble traditional cigarettes.
E-cigarettes contain a mechanism inside the device that heats up liquid nicotine and turns it into a vapor that smokers then inhale and exhale. Unlike conventional cigarettes, however, e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco.
This key difference has led some to deem e-cigarettes safer to smoke – and to be exposed to – than conventional cigarettes, but the recent study in JAMA Pediatrics clearly shows that this is not the case, as these products are leading to increased tobacco use.
E-cigarettes came to market in the United States in 2007, and, by some estimates, there are now approximately 1,000 different brands available for purchase in the U.S.
A couple years ago, some were saying E-Cigarettes were a “smoking cessation device.”
Oswego County Today reached out to Abby Jenkins, coordinator of the Tobacco Free Network of Oswego County. The following is here response then:
“E-Cigarettes are not an approved cessation device through the FDA or NYS Tobacco Control Program.
“There is very little formal, independent research about the contents and possible health effects of E-Cigarettes at this time- which means we have no accurate knowledge and no one is regulating what it is that users are inhaling and ingesting, as well as any consequences to bystanders ingesting the byproduct of the vapor release.
“Remember, even if the byproduct vapor does not contain carcinogens but does contain nicotine, nicotine is still an addictive component that could affect someone not directly using the product.
“I would take all E-Cigarette information about health benefits and reduced risk with a grain of salt as these ‘studies’ and opinions are most likely coming from the companies themselves, and rarely from an independent research group.
“Also, there is currently no form of standard or regulation that requires the same or similar makeup of E-Cigarettes; so while a reduced harm health claim may (and I stress the word may) be accurate, this does not necessarily mean another E-Cigarette manufacturer could make that same claim.”