On Monday, the Pennsylvania Senate unanimously passed State Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf’s legislation, SB 751, which would prohibit the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors.
The popularity of electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, has grown in recent years. According to CDC, the number of students in grades 6-12 reporting having ever used an e-cigarette more than doubled from 3.3 percent to 7.7 percent from 2011 to 2013. Recent use of e-cigarettes among high school students tripled from 1.5 percent to 4.5 percent during this time—a 61 percent increase from 2.8 percent in 2012.
Another national study, “Monitoring the Future,” found recent e-cigarette use among teens exceeded traditional cigarette smoking in 2014 for the first time. E-cigarette use among 8th and 10th graders was double that of traditional cigarette smoking. E-cigarettes are frequently available in different flavors such as cotton candy, bubble gum, and chocolate which may appeal to children and teens. Today, there are nearly 500 brands of e-cigarettes on the market and they come in over 7,700 different flavors.
In 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a proposal to start oversight over e-cigarettes as tobacco products but to date has not issued final regulations.
“Given that the long-term effects of e-cigarettes are still being studied, I believe it is vital that we take the initiative to update our law to ensure that this new product stays out of the hands of children,” said Senator Greenleaf.
The measure is supported by the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association, and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.