Youths should be prohibited from using so-called e-cigarettes just as they are barred from smoking traditional cigarettes, says California state Sen. Ellen Corbett.
The Sacramento Bee reported Aug. 14 that while California law makes it illegal for youths under age 18 to smoke cigarettes, it is silent on the use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) that deliver a dose of vaporized nicotine to users without burning tobacco.
“Just because there's a new technology, why would you make nicotine available to young people when you don't normally?” said Corbett, who also is urging fellow lawmakers to ban the sale of e-cigarettes until the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declares them safe for consumption.
The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors recently informed Corbett that it has received “multiple reports of teens being offered e-cigarettes at local mall kiosks.” But Matt Salmon of the Electronic Cigarette Association said that manufacturers don't want the devices sold to minors.
“I just think it's common sense that you don't want kids hooked on nicotine,” Salmon said. “That's a bad precedent, bad policy.” Salmon also expressed doubt that kids would lay out the $80 for an e-cigarette starter kit or the $2 for each cartridge of nicotine.
The FDA has issued a warning about e-cigarettes and blocked some shipments into the U.S., but has not banned them outright. “We simply don't know what's in them, we don't know what's not in them, we don't know what health effects they may have on folks who use them – that's exactly the problem,” said FDA spokesperson Judy Leon.