Quit for Good, a newly formed anti-tobacco advocacy group, asked the government to enact a law prohibiting minors from using electronic cigarettes, also called electronic nicotine delivery systems or vapes.
Dr. Lorenzo Mata, president of Quit for Good movement, cited the 2015 Global Youth Tobacco Survey showing that about 11 percent of young children from ages of 13 to 15 had experimented with e-cigarettes.
“E-cigarettes have been specifically designed for adult smokers that are looking for viable alternatives to combustible cigarettes, not for experimenting or impressionable minors,” Mata said.
Mata cited a recent study conducted by public health researchers from the Universities of Buffalo and Michigan. Dr. Lynn Kozlowski, the study’s lead researcher, said there was a lack of substantial evidence to show a link between e-cigarette use and subsequent tobacco use. She said many studies used erroneous measures to determine actual smoking rate.
E-cigarette flavorings were also reported to be an important consideration, especially as young people favor vape juices with only flavorings, not nicotine.
Kozlowski and co-author Kenneth Warner cited a national survey by the University of Michigan entitled “Monitoring the Future” that sought to understand the behaviors, attitudes, and values of American students and young adults. The research indicated that 20 percent of the students surveyed used e-cigarettes juices that had nicotine content.
“To prevent, if not eliminate, the youth appeal of vaping products, a total ban on e-cigarette advertising is non-negotiable. We strongly urge our government to ratify sound policies that will strictly require e-cigarette manufacturers and retailers, both on-ground and online, to refrain from conducting deceptive marketing activities, such as utilizing social media and celebrity influencers, and more importantly, to perform age verification measures prior to any transaction,” Mata said.
Mata said that it would be unwise to undercut the harm reduction potential of e-cigarettes. He pointed out that in the United Kingdom where e-cigarettes have been available for about ten years now, there has been no outbreak of vaping-related illnesses because it is only being used as a smoking alternative by current smokers.
ENDS devices and liquids were also subject to fair regulations and effective quality standards in the UK where vaping remains uncommon among the youth.
“New data released by Action on Smoking and Health UK revealed that there are now half as many vapers in the country as smokers, comprised mostly by former cigarette users. Given these data, we find it very unfortunate that the gains of e-cigarette products in switching adult smokers from the harms of continued tobacco use is being disparaged due to the illnesses caused by the use of tainted and illicit marijuana-based e-liquids,” he said.
“If any, the growth of illicit trade in the country is indicative of the demand for e-cigarette products. If the government is truly committed to public health, the fair regulation of the category can help protect both vapers and non-smokers from the dangers of unregulated vaping products. An outright ban of e-cigarettes is unreasonable and dangerous, as it will only force vapers, and even youth, to purchase from unscrupulous traders,” Mata said.