If you listened to the morning news on April 24, 2014, you heard that for the first time “the Food and Drug Administration will propose new rules that would extend its regulatory authority from cigarettes to other products such as electronic cigarettes. This new change will also cover cigars and pipe tobacco which many smokers buy to roll-their-own cigarettes. The new ban would mean minors under 18 would be prohibited from purchasing these products, and others would have to show proof of age with photo identification, rules already established in many states. So what else do the new regulations mean?
It means producers of e-cigarettes and cigars would have to register with the FDA, provide a detailed ingredient list, and “disclose their manufacturing processes and scientific data.” It also means if you plan on selling these products, you will be subject to FDA inspections. Internet sales of e-cigarettes and cigars to minors would no longer be allowed. The ban would also cover sales of these products in vending machines where minors have access.
It would also mean that companies can not offer free samples of products at events. Considering e-cigarettes and other tobacco products contain nicotine, it would make sense to ban free samples of substances which could lead to a life-long addiction. E-cigarettes would also have to have nicotine warning labels to let users know they are addictive. Currently, there are no such warnings on packages (see example at left).
While the cigar industry wants premium cigars (those hand-rolled using a tobacco leaf as the outer wrapper) to not be subjected to FDA authority, the FDA is requesting public comment on the subject. It should be noted that while the cigar industry has been lobbying Congress to be exempt from the rules, cigars are more dangerous then cigarette products. Premium cigars contain more tobacco than cigarettes with some containing the tobacco equivalent of an entire pack of cigarettes. According to the National Cancer Institute, cigar smoke has a higher level of cancer-causing substances, more tar, and higher levels of toxins. And a single premium cigar, which is usually smoked over several hours, can provide as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. While cigar smoke is not typically inhaled into the lungs, the smoke is absorbed through the lining of the mouth, and toxins mix with saliva and are carried through the body.
These bans the FDA are proposing are necessary, but they still don’t cover two elements that would help make these products less desirable to youth: flavors and marketing.
Whether it is experimentation with a new digital product on the market, or the lack of the cigarette smell, use of e-cigarettes have more than doubled among middle and high school aged students between 2011-2012. Another more simple reason for the increase is the e-cigarettes come in a variety of flavored nicotine such as chocolate, grape, and bubble gum, which replace tobacco flavor with a sweet candy-coating, making this addictive product seem like….well, candy.
While cigarette marketing is banned on television, the same can’t be said for e-cigarettes. In fact, according to Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, e-cigarette marketing uses the same marketing ideas used by cigarettes in years past such as celebrity endorsement, sexy ads, sponsorships at music and sports events, glamorous women, and cartoon characters. The ads promote e-cigarette use with no harmful side effects, such as carcinogens found in cigarettes. The industry as a whole advertise that e-cigarettes emit “harmless water vapor,” yet California Proposition 65, which was enacted to protect California citizens from chemicals known to cause cancer, provides a list of potentially deadly chemicals they have identified in mainstream or sidestream e-cigarette vapor.
While health experts and smoker’s rights advocates argue over tobacco and the role that e-cigarettes play, it’s the children who are increasing their use of flavored tobacco products and nicotine delivery systems that could cause them a lifetime of nicotine addiction.
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