The use of e-cigarette products is increasing with the young crowd, and the safety of the tobacco product being questioned. E-cigarettes still contain nicotine, which has addictive properties. It is true that e-cigarettes are a safer option for tobacco consumption, but the long term effects of these products have not been determined, nor the side effects of secondhand smoke.
Recent studies show that e-cigarette use among high school students tripled from the year 2013 to 2014. The study estimated that nearly 500,000 middle-schoolers as well as 2 million high-schoolers have used e-cigarettes at least once in the last 30 days. Additionally, 13.4 percent of high school students said they use e-cigarettes, surpassing the percentage of youth who smokes traditional cigarettes. There is also growth in use of these products among non-smokers, especially among those younger than 18.
Traditional cigarette advertising was banned from T.V. in 1971, but now e-cigarette ads are available with messaging that targets to the younger crowd. A report conducted in 2014 states that 24 million children saw e-cigarette advertisements between 2011 and 2013. The FDA is pushing to ban sales to those under the age of 18. Though this proposed rule includes banning sales in vending machines, it does not include online sales or T.V. advertising. The FDA says future action on banning these acts is possible. This rule is a “deeming regulation” proposal that will give the FDA the authority to regulate all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.
Democrats in Congress are pushing the FDA to issue a stronger rule, preventing companies from advertising their product to children. Senator Barbara Boxer is asking five large tobacco companies to voluntarily pledge in pulling their e-cigarette advertisements. 4 out of 5 companies responded, but none mentioned they would pull their T.V. advertisements.
Congress gave the FDA permission to regulate all tobacco products in 2009, and it wasn’t until April of 2014 that the FDA started proposing the rule. Many groups, including the American Lung Association has expressed their disappointment about how long the FDA has taken to write the rule. The FDA has stated that it will work on expediting the process, but will not comment on its progress.
Once the rule is written and finalized, it will take 30 days to be published. All e-cigarette manufacturers will have 24 months after the rule is published to stop manufacturing products that don’t have the new health rule.