Group bats for e-cig ban on minors

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    A man uses a vape device. Reuters PHOTO
    A man uses a vape device. Reuters PHOTO

    Quit for Good, a newly formed anti-tobacco advocacy group, is urging the government to enact fair regulation on electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) or e-cigarettes to keep these products inaccessible to youth or individuals below 18 years old.

    Dr. Lorenzo Mata, President of Quit for Good, cited the 2015 Global Youth Tobacco Survey where around 11% of young children between the ages of 13-15 have already experimented with electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), commonly known as e-cigarettes.

    “E-cigarettes have been specifically designed for adult smokers that are looking for viable alternatives to combustible cigarettes, not for experimenting or impressionable minors,” Mata stressed.

    And while the Department of Health shared concerns about ENDS being a prospective gateway to cigarette smoking, Mata shared a recent study conducted by public health researchers from the Universities of Buffalo and Michigan that disproves this theory.

    Dr. Lynn Kozlowski, the study’s lead researcher, revealed that there is a lack of substantial evidence to show a link between e-cigarette use and subsequent tobacco use. She cites that many studies use erroneous measures to determine actual smoking. “Measures of ‘at least one puff in the past six months’ can mean little more than the experimenting vaper was curious how cigarettes compared,” Kozlowski said.

    “To prevent, if not eliminate, the youth appeal of vaping products, a total ban on e-cigarette advertising is non-negotiable. We strongly urge our government to ratify sound policies that will strictly require e-cigarette manufacturers and retailers, both on-ground and online, to refrain from conducting deceptive marketing activities, such as utilizing social media and celebrity influencers, and more importantly, to perform age verification measures prior to any transaction,” Mata declared.

    Mata said that it would be unwise to disparage the harm reduction potential of e-cigarettes.

    He pointed out that in the United Kingdom where e-cigarettes have been available for about ten years now, there has been no outbreak of vaping-related illnesses because it is being used as a smoking alternative by current smokers and ENDS devices and liquids are subject to fair regulations and effective quality standards. In addition, vaping remains uncommon among youth.

    “New data released by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) UK revealed that there are now half as many vapers in the country as smokers, comprised mostly of former cigarette users. Given this data, we find it very unfortunate that the gains of e-cigarette products in switching adult smokers from the harms of continued tobacco use is being disparaged due to the illnesses caused by the use of tainted and illicit marijuana-based e-liquids,” he said.

    “If any, the growth of illicit trade in the country is indicative of the demand for e-cigarette products. If the government is truly committed to public health, the fair regulation of the category can help protect both vapers and non-smokers from the dangers of unregulated vaping products. An outright ban of e-cigarettes is unreasonable and dangerous, as it will only force vapers, and even youth, to purchase from unscrupulous traders,” Dr. Mata concluded.