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California Lawmakers look to crack down on the sales of E-Cigarettes to Youth

Youth Nicotine Consumption has seen a Dramatic Spike in Recent Years

By Sean Brown, November 29, 2018 6:02 pm

Six California lawmakers announced today that they will introduce legislation to prohibit sales of flavored tobacco products, including flavored electronic cigarettes, in retail stores and vending machines in an effort to terminate the dramatic uptick in nicotine consumption by youths.

State Senator Jerry Hill Strolls the Halls of the Capitol – Photo by Kevin Sanders for California Globe

Senators Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), Steve Glazer (D-Orinda), Anthony J. Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), Connie Leyva (D-Chino) and Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) with Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) will unveil their proposal next week when the Legislature reconvenes. Their bill, which would also impose age verification requirements for online sales of tobacco products, is “prompted by new federal figures showing a sharp rise in e-cigarette use by youths, a jump in use of the flavored e-cigarettes by high school students, and an increase in underage use of tobacco products overall.”

“We must stop the appalling epidemic of e-cigarette use by youths,” said Senator Hill. “Enticed by fruit, candy and other appealing flavors, high school and middle school students throughout the U.S. are vaping in record numbers. The surge has reversed the decline in underage use of all tobacco products.”

“Flavored e-cigarettes are luring young people into a nicotine addiction that can lead to a lifetime of harmful health effects,” said Senator Glazer. “This needs to stop before we get another generation hooked on nicotine and tobacco.”

State Senator Steven M. Glazer – Photo by Kevin Sanders for California Globe

“One of the mayors in my district recently asked me to help stem the vaping crisis, and as a dad of a teenage daughter I am very pleased to join my colleague Jerry Hill on this important public health effort,” said Senator Portantino.

“Flavored tobacco products are extremely appealing to our youth, but we know these products are addicting and can negatively impact brain development during crucial years,” said Assemblymember McCarty. “California must set new standards to protect our youth.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report earlier this month “showing that more than 3.6 million middle and high school students are using e-cigarettes – that’s 1.5 million more than in 2017 and almost 13 times the number of students who were using e-cigarettes in 2011…The stunning growth between 2017 and 2018 amounted to a 78 percent increase in e-cigarette use by high school students and a 48 percent increase by middle school students. By 2018, 1 in 5 high school students were using e-cigarettes and 1 in 20 middle school students were doing the same.”

The California Department of Public Health warns that the danger posed by e-cigarettes is not limited to their nicotine content. E-cigarette aerosol contains at least 10 chemicals on California’s Proposition 65 list of substances known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm, including acetaldehyde, benzene, cadmium, formaldehyde, isoprene, lead, nickel, nicotine, n‐nitrosonornicotine and toluene.

According to the Center for Tobacco Policy and Organizing of the American Lung Association, twenty-six California cities, towns and counties already have restricted flavored tobacco products with the majority in the greater Bay Area. The proposed lawmakers’ bill would create a threshold for restrictions and prohibitions regarding tobacco product sales and would not prevent local jurisdictions from taking further steps.

Sean Brown

Before becoming a writer for the California Globe, Sean served as a Legislative Director in the New York City Council and is an NYU alumnus.
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