Connecticut lawmakers were prompted by advocates this Wednesday to change the present regulations about vapor products and e-cigs by making them more restrictive. The reason is that more and more teenagers are using these electronic systems to smoke.
Even if the nicotine level is not as high as normal cigarettes have, the substances used are addictive and possibly harmful. Jennifer DeWitt, director of the Central Naugatuck Valley Regional Action Council, provided the members of the General Assembly’s Public Health Committee with the real side of the story.
In the 12-town region her organization covers, every principal has a desk drawer full of e-cigs and vapor products confiscated from teenagers throughout this year, including some items used to smoke marijuana.
According to DeWitt, many middle school pupils were caught using these devices or worse selling to other young people. This situation is critical because not only teenagers are suffering from it but also children. Moreover, 7.2 percent of high school students from Connecticut are e-cigarette users, showing a higher usage rate than all tobacco products together.
The law changes suggested by DeWitt include restricting the efforts of marketing these products to teenagers, such as banning flavors, which make the smoking process more pleasant, prohibiting the use and sale of vapor products and e-cigarettes to people under 21 years old and taxing these goods and devices. The most popular flavors right now are bubble gum and cherry.
The places where vapor products and e-cigarettes can be used were restricted last year by the General Assembly. Plus, according to that law, the legislative committee was given 30 days to hold a hearing after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration established whether these products would be included on the same list of restriction as tobacco cigarettes. The ruling was made on May 5th by the FDA.
Moreover, Matthew Ritter, co-chairman of the Public Health Committee, stated that the issue will be revisited during the regular legislative session in 2017. According to him, some ideas were also suggested in the past, such as taxation. Plus, lawmakers were also prompted to support the next year’s funding for tobacco control programs, funding that has been used until now to balance the state budget.
Bryte Johnson, the relations director for the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, believes that the funding will have a crucial role regarding the issue of vapor products and e-cigs.