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DeWine proposes national e-cigarette regulation

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Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has joined forces with 39 attorneys generals from other states to get the Federal Drug Administration to regulate the sale and distribution of e-cigarettes.

DeWine has brought attention to the fact that that there are currently no age requirements when it comes to the cigarette alternative known as an e-cigarette. In a letter to the FDA that DeWine co-authored, he suggests that “unlike traditional tobacco products, there are no federal age restrictions that would prevent children from obtaining e-cigarettes, nor are there any advertising restrictions. We ask the FDA to move quickly to ensure that all tobacco products are tested and regulated to ensure that companies do not continue to sell or advertise to our nation’s youth.”

E-cigarettes are a newer alternative to traditional cigarettes. These electronic cigarettes are supposed to have fewer chemicals in them compared to original cigarettes.

Furthermore, instead of smokers exhaling dangerous second-hand smoke, e-cigarette smokers exhale water vapor. The companies that produce e-cigarettes enjoy the freedom to go about business without many federal regulations. This year, companies are set to make about $1.7 billion in profit, doubling their profit from last year.

But some aren’t so swiftly convinced that the popular e-cigarette is safer. Tim McAfee, director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said that e-cigarettes are not necessarily safer.

“Although [the e-cigarettes] have fewer toxins in them than conventional cigarettes, they’re not safe and they have levels of toxins in them that we don’t know about because they are unregulated. Even if one brand tests low at one point, many more e-cigarettes are coming off the assembly lines in China, so we don’t know what’s actually in them,” McAfee said.

Furthermore, Alexander Prokhorov, a MD at Anderson’s Cancer Center in Houston, Texas suggested in an interview with National Geographic  that “you may want to switch to the product and continue using it. Since the smoker’s dependency is on nicotine, there is a risk for relapse to smoking conventional cigarettes.”

Another director of the CDC, Thomas R. Friedman, agreed in an interview that e-cigarettes are more harmful than they let on. Friedman said that the CDC sees some concerning trends and explains that “nicotine can be a very addictive drug, so we want to make sure that e-cigarettes don’t lead to another generation of kids becoming addicted.”

“Use of e-cigarettes in youth doubled in the past year, and many kids are starting out with e-cigarettes and then go on to smoke conventional cigarettes,” Friedman said.

Europe has also been having concerns about the regulation of e-cigarettes. On Oct. 8, 2013, Parliament is set to vote on a bill that regulates e-cigarettes. The goal of the bill will make e-cigarettes harder to obtain by setting a minimum age requirement in order to purchase them.

Furthermore, Parliament would require e-cigarette companies to seek new licenses every time they want to produce a new flavor or strength.

DeWine and the other 39 different attorneys general may have something to be concerned about. The Ohio attorney general explained in his letter to the FDA that “State Attorneys General have long fought to protect their States’ citizens, particularly youth, from the dangers of tobacco products. For example, every State Attorney General sued the major cigarette companies for the harm their products caused, with the protection of our States’ citizens again in mind, the undersigned Attorneys General write to highlight the need for immediate regulatory oversight of e-cigarettes, an increasingly widespread, addictive product.”

With the current government shutdown, it is unknown how long it will take to push the FDA to consider regulation on e-cigarettes.

 

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