U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) made a statement recently regarding results of a national survey which found a significantly higher number of teens reportedly using e-cigarettes, as opposed to traditional cigarettes, in 2014.
“This alarming increase in teen use of e-cigarettes demands action,” said Boxer. “It is past time for the FDA to finalize strong rules to ban sales to minors and prevent e-cigarette makers from marketing to our kids.”
Similar issues have been raised recently on the issue of smoking and tobacco related products. Ken Fitzgerald of the Stanislaus County Office of Education Smoke-Free Parks initiative and Girl Scout Troop 3289 of Turlock began lobbying the Turlock Parks, Arts and Recreation Commission (PARC) to ban smoking and related products in City parks earlier this year.
Along those lines was a recently released government-sponsored survey entitled “Monitoring the Future” which reported teen use of e-cigarettes to be higher than regular cigarettes.
The City discovered an unenforced smoking ban in City of Turlock parks from 2003, of which the City of Turlock Parks Arts and Recreation Commission ultimately reaffirmed and updated the ban in a 6-2 vote recommending the Turlock City Council take action.
The recommendation was made to extend the ban to new tobacco technologies, such as vapor and electronic cigarettes, in all public parks, facilities and adjacent public parking lots.
In November the Centers for Disease Control released their 2013 National Youth Tobacco Survey, finding that e-cigarette usage among high school students tripled between 2011 and 2013.
The Monitoring the Future survey also found that more teens in grades eight, 10, and 12 reported using e-cigarettes in the prior month, compared to those who reported smoking regular cigarettes. Among eighth graders, 8.7 percent reported using an e-cigarette in the past 30 days, while only 4 percent reported using a traditional cigarette. Comparatively numbers increased among 12th graders where 17.1 percent reported using e-cigarettes, where 13.6 percent reported traditional cigarette use.
During public comments section of the PARC meeting, Ally Scott, a Turlock High School senior and member of THS PHAST Club — a group devoted to raising awareness about tobacco prevention — encouraged that the ban be updated to include vapor cigarettes, explaining that there is no safe level of exposure to smoke.
“They all look the same from afar,” said Scott. “It’s about modeling for kids.”
Currently, 10 states and the District of Columbia do not have state laws prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, meaning that over 16 million children can legally purchase e-cigarettes.
Ultimately PARC’s recommendation to ban smoking in City parks, should it be passed by City Council in upcoming sessions, is intended to serve as primarily educational, bringing awareness to the issue.
Additionally, a rule proposed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in April would allow the regulation of e-cigarettes, which is not currently under FDA jurisdiction, subjecting them to many of the same federal regulations that currently apply to traditional cigarettes.
This would include a federal ban on sales to children under 18, requiring disclosure of product ingredients, and prohibiting manufacturers from claiming products to be less harmful than traditional cigarettes without scientific evidence supporting their claims.
In August, thirteen Members of congress including Boxer asked the FDA finalize a proposed rule on e-cigarettes within one year including provisions to would limit youth access.
Boxer also introduced the Protecting Children from Electronic Cigarette Advertising Act to prohibit the marketing of e-cigarettes to children and teens which has been endorsed by the American Public Health Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology, the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.