[MMA News Now, Sept. 12, 2013]
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported
Sept. 5 that the percentage of U.S. middle and high school students who use electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, more than doubled from 2011 to 2012.
E-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is vaporized and ingested by the user. While they resemble cigarettes they do not contain tobacco and many states are still wrestling with how to treat them. Currently, they are available in a variety of kid-friendly fruit and chocolate flavors.
Proponents of e-cigarettes say that they are beneficial because smokers use them to wean themselves off of tobacco. Opponents see them as another entry-point to nicotine addiction.
“Clinicians are understandably being cautious about e-cigarettes,” said Terry Clark, M.D., FCCP, an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School – Duluth. “The best clinical study to date found no significant difference in quit rates between those using them and those using patches. We all are waiting for new regulations from the FDA.”
Currently, e-cigarettes are not regulated by the FDA. However, Minnesota has prohibited the sale of nicotine delivery products such as e-cigarettes to minors since May 2010.
Some groups are anxious for the FDA to act. On Sept. 12, Minnesota Public Radio reported that the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium at William Mitchell College in St. Paul has requested that the federal government regulate e-cigarettes and other unregulated tobacco products. The Consortium sent a citizen petition to the FDA, which is a formal request that requires a response though it is under no deadline to act, MPR reported.
Not all communities are waiting for FDA action, however. Earlier this week, the Duluth City Council passed an ordinance
that bans the use of e-cigarettes in places where conventional cigarette smoking is already prohibited. More than a dozen Minnesota communities now have similar ordinances.
“E-cigarettes seem to be flying off the shelves, not just into the hands of adult current smokers, but to teens as well,” Clark said.
CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. characterized the increased use of e-cigarettes as deeply troubling. “Nicotine is a highly addictive drug,” he said. “Many teens who start with e-cigarettes may be condemned to struggling with a lifelong addiction to nicotine and conventional cigarettes.”
“This past legislative session, Minnesota made a giant leap towards reducing teen nicotine addiction by enacting a significant tobacco tax increase and closing the little cigar loophole,” said Eric Dick, the MMA’s manager of state legislative affairs.“The CDC report just reinforces the fact that our work is not done. We need to continue working to reduce nicotine’s harm.”
Stay tuned to MMA News Now
as the MMA continues to monitor this issue.