The colorful, fruity, sweet and candy-named flavors of e-cigs are aimed at children and could lure them to a nicotine habit when they otherwise wouldn’t choose to smoke. The Vermont House committee has four bills on the table:
- Raising the minimum age for buying tobacco products from 18 to 21
- Taxing e-cigarettes like other tobacco products (92% of wholesale price)
- Prohibiting e-cigarette displays on store counters
- Restricting e-cigarette flavors to menthol
No federal regulations currently cover electronic cigarettes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering a designation that would subject e-cigarettes to the same rules as other tobacco products, requiring manufacturers to register their products, list ingredients, undergo review for new products, include health warnings and provide proof of any marketing claims. Product review and registration alone could cost e-cig companies hundreds of thousands of dollars.
For the legislation:
- It’s addictive
- The number of middle and high school students who said they never had smoked but used the electronic devices more than tripled between 2011 and 2013, from about 79,000 to more than 263,000, according to a Centers for Disease Control survey released in August.
- There is no scientific study that proves involuntary exposure to e-cigarette vapors does not pose health risks.
Against the legislation:
- It’s better than smoking cigarettes and helps some smokers quit or reduce the amount of nicotine they inhale.
- Flavors are necessary. E-cig smokers will not buy liquid without flavor. It would taste like unflavored cough syrup.
- It will cut into the cost benefit that gives cigarette smokers an incentive to switch to a potentially better alternative. For a pack-a-day smoker, the price for a month’s supply of e-liquid is about $20, far less than than a month supply of cigarettes.
“It’s important for people to understand that this is not a health-neutral product. This is a product that has a health impact,” said Rep. Alison Clarkson, D-Woodstock.
Where do you stand on this e-cig controversy?