For Immediate Release: December 4th, 2013
Senator Wielechowski to Introduce Legislation Banning E-Cigarette Sales to Minors
ANCHORAGE – Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) announced today he will introduce legislation in the upcoming legislative session to make furnishing or selling an e-cigarette to a minor illegal.
Nationally, the number of middle and high school students who have smoked e-cigarettes doubled from 2011-2012, according to a recently published report from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those who reported trying e-cigarettes, more than 20% of middle and 9% of high school students said they had never smoked conventional cigarettes. Analysts predict the e-cigarette market will approach $2 billion in sales by the end of 2013 and may exceed $10 billion by 2017.
“About 90% of adult smokers started puffing before they were 18,” said Senator Wielechowski. “The e-cigarette market is exploding. Alaska should act now to discourage the sale of these potentially harmful products to our kids. We don’t need more Alaskans hooked on nicotine when we’re spending millions to help others kick the habit.”
E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that heat liquid nicotine and other additives to create an inhalable vapor. There is currently no government oversight over them. Consequently, there is no way for public health experts, the medical community or consumers to know what chemicals are in e-cigarettes or what the short- and long-term health implications might be. The FDA has announced that it intends to expand its jurisdiction to include e-cigarettes, but has not yet issued rules.
Twenty five states have already restricted sales of e-cigarettes. In addition, forty state attorney generals, including Alaska’s, wrote a letter last September to the FDA “seeking immediate regulatory oversight of e-cigarettes, an increasingly widespread addictive product.” The letter noted that nicotine in e-cigarettes “has immediate biochemical effects on the brain and body at any dosage, and is toxic in high doses.”
E-cigarettes cartridges often contain flavorings, such as Fruit Loops and gummy bears, making them appealing to kids. Initial lab tests by the Food and Drug Administration in 2009 found detectable levels of toxic cancer-causing chemicals, including an ingredient used in anti-freeze, in two leading brands of e-cigarettes. There are currently no ingredient disclosure requirements.
“Cigarette smoking remains the leading preventable cause of disease, disability and death in the United States, responsible for 443,000 deaths each year,” said Senator Wielechowski. “Products that act as a gateway to this dangerous and addictive habit should be carefully regulated. Alaska should do everything possible to prevent e-cigarettes from getting in the hands of our children.”
For more information, contact Senator Wielechowski at 907-242-1558.