Officials say minimum age for tobacco sales should be 21, urge strict e-cigarette regulations

ST. GEORGE – Leaders in pediatric health are calling for the U.S. government to tighten regulations on e-cigarettes and tobacco products, stating e-cigarettes are threatening to addict a new generation to nicotine.

In an effort to protect the nation’s youth from the “pernicious effects of tobacco and nicotine,” the American Academy of Pediatrics, or AAP, urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Monday to create strict regulations for the marketing and sales of these products while strongly recommending the minimum age to purchase tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, should be increased to age 21 nationwide.

electronic cigarettesThe recommendations were issued in three policy statements that were simultaneously published online in Pediatrics. The recommendations outline guidelines for lawmakers, clinical guidance for physicians working with families to minimize exposure and dependence on tobacco, as well as recommendations for e-cigarette regulations. A companion technical report provides a review of the scientific evidence that supports the recommendations.

“Tobacco is unique among consumer products in that it severely injures and kills when used exactly as intended,” according to the AAP policy statement. “Protecting children from tobacco products is one of the most important things that a society can do to protect children’s health.”

In August, state health officials sounded the alarm about a report that shows nearly twice as many Utah youths used e-cigarettes in 2015 compared with 2013.

Some argue that just as the nation is on the brink of being the first generation that is tobacco-free, an electronic device and some flavored juice are threatening to jeopardize all the hard work.

While e-cigarettes began appearing in the U.S. in late 2006, marketing has exploded in recent years in the industry that has grown in the last five years from about $82 million to an estimated $3.5 billion in sales this year.

e-cigarette and e-liquidThe drug comes in an array of colors and candy flavors that critics say make it attractive to young children. While they are often described as a less dangerous alternative to regular cigarettes, experts say nicotine, including the nicotine in e-cigarettes, is especially harmful to children.

“There is no scientific evidence that supports the efficacy or safety of e-cigarettes as a tobacco dependence treatment product,” according to the AAP. “In fact, e-cigarette use among teens is associated with a higher likelihood of using regular tobacco and lower rates of smoking cessation. In 2014, more young adults reported using e-cigarettes than any other tobacco product.”

The health association urges the FDA to regulate e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems the same as other tobacco products. This includes age restrictions, taxes, bans on advertising to youth and bans on flavored products that are particularly attractive to youth, along with the following:

  • Child-resistant packaging

Child-resistant packaging is critically needed to protect curious young children from exposure to liquid nicotine, according to the AAP. Liquid nicotine is extremely toxic; as little as half a teaspoon can be fatal if ingested by an average sized toddler. In 2014, there were more than 3,000 calls to U.S. poison control centers for liquid nicotine exposure, and one toddler died.

  • Smoke-free laws

The AAP recommends smoke-free laws that already govern secondhand smoke be expanded to include e-cigarettes. The aerosol emitted from e-cigarettes is not harmless; it contains a variety of toxic chemicals, including some carcinogens and significant amounts of nicotine. Parents should not use e-cigarettes around their children, according to the AAP.

  • Price increase

To reduce the number of young people who begin to smoke or use other tobacco products, the AAP recommends regulations that will increase prices on tobacco products: smoking and other tobacco products that produce toxic emission should be prohibited in all workplaces, including bars, restaurants and health care facilities, and they should be banned in places where children live, learn and play, including sidewalks, recreational and sports facilities, entertainment venues, parks, schools and dormitories, and multi-unit housing. Smoke-free homes and smoke-free vehicles should be promoted.

“The developing brains of children and teens are particularly vulnerable to nicotine, which is why the growing popularity of e-cigarettes among adolescents is so alarming and dangerous to their long-term health,” said Karen M. Wilson, chair of the AAP Section on Tobacco Control and section head of Pediatric Hospital Medicine at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

Tobacco smoke exposure harms children from conception onward, according to the AAP, and there is no safe level of tobacco or tobacco smoke exposure.

In March, Utah state legislators passed HB415 – Regulation of Electronic Cigarettes – a measure that requires e-cigarette retailers obtain a license. It also tasked the state health department with establishing standards for product quality, nicotine content, packaging and labeling.

Additionally, several Utah counties have enacted regulations to govern the sale and manufacture of e-cigarettes, and official say it has been effective in lowering the use of e-cigarette use in those counties.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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7 Comments

  • izzymuse October 27, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    What a nanny state! More moral legislation? Really? You think that’s the solution? Hmmmm. Or is this really about something else?
    .

    Lawmakers: “Let’s make more laws to raise revenue for the state!”

  • arrowone October 27, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    Simply how one can die for his country at eighteen but can’t choose to smoke. What a state. Their answer is to charge more so hopefully no one will buy them but alas, we can reap the taxes if they do. A person is a legal adult at eighteen, I understand the liquor laws due to driving but cigarettes ? Come on. No small wonder when a lot of our youths get out of the house after graduation they go nuts with freedom and do not really know anything about the adult world.

    • radioviking October 27, 2015 at 9:34 pm

      Control, $$$$, and legal plundering is the way of the Mormon good ol boy club!

      .
      Even though the Mormons teach that force is how Satan does his evil business it sure seems to be how they get their way around here for the last century.

  • Common Sense October 28, 2015 at 6:52 am

    Smoking is gross. E-cigs make you look stupid. Really? Flavored candy liquid nicotine? Americas youth needs to come to this conclusion on their own. The govt doesn’t stop people from eating fast food and soda the number one leading cause of diabetes… just sayin. It is the parents responsibility to instill good habits and values that leave their children with good life long decision making skills. “Adddiction” is a crutch.

  • Jenn October 28, 2015 at 8:43 am

    Please people first , get educated on this subject ! I recently did this as I was also misguided to the fact that these E-cigs are less harmful or even “not harmful” . Quite the opposite ! I went to a continuing education class on E-Cigs and learned so much ! They carry as much nicotine as regular cigarettes , there are some “juice” that contain little or 0% nicotine but more expensive so as kids will buy the higher % , as the tobacco companies hope to get the younger age “hooked” since less teens are using traditional cigarettes . These E-cigs are just a marketing way to promote their product . You should see the flavors and designs that will intrigue even younger users . This is not about any religion or the state trying to make money , it’s about protecting our youth from addition !! Read up on it and I guarantee you’ll change your mind!

  • Rainbow Dash October 28, 2015 at 9:38 am

    If you’re old enough to to die in a Republican caused skirmish over oil prices in Afghanistan at 18 then you’re old enough to smoke a cigarette if you want. IMO it should be 18 across the board.

  • sagemoon October 29, 2015 at 8:55 am

    Pretty soon the age to be an adult will be raised to 21 and parents will go crazy because they can’t get rid of their kids for another three years. Another three years of child support payments, three years of free higher education (paid by tax payers), kids will fall in love with their parents’ basements…Gosh, if you can’t smoke and drink until you’re 21 and your parents have to pay for your insurance until your 26, why grow up at all? If that happens, I expect the age of enrollment in the military to go up to 21, also, or I’ll be forced to write letters to my representatives. Why write a letter now when I can wait until it’s too late?

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