Schumer wants to ban e-cigs
NEW YORK--Standing alongside New York kids who say they have become addicted to their e-cig, "Juul," and on the heels of a just-out warning letter from the nation's health coalitions that cites the continued spread of e-cigarette use among middle and high school students, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) is demanding the feds, particularly the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), use a law on the books to immediately reign in and ban the kid-friendly e-cig flavors, he and others say, are helping to fuel a fire of e-cig addiction among New York adolescents.
The new and unprecedented e-cig warning letter to U.S. FDA Administrator Scott Gottlieb was signed last month by a broad coalition that includes the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and the American Lung Association among others.
"The craze among kids for e-cig flavors that resemble whipped cream, candy and cookies is not only a bad trend, but it is a recipe for disaster that is fueling an outright addiction that appears to be getting worse, not better," said Schumer. "The just-out warning letter from America's top doctors and health groups detailing how this addiction continues its creep into high schools and middle schools is no doubt nails on the chalkboard for teachers and parents alike. This e-cig nicotine laced liquid could have very serious implications on adolescent development and health. That is why it is high time to ramp up the pressure on and by the FDA so quicker action to rid the marketplace of kid-friendly e-cig flavors is taken. While the FDA has thankfully begun to move on this epidemic, those actions are slower moving compared to the wildfire spread of e-cig use among kids, and we need to catch up. New York kids are in a flavor trap and it's becoming a real epidemic now."
Schumer said the current law on the books the FDA should use to reign in e-cigs and curtail marketing to kids begins with the Tobacco Control Act that Schumer pushed and passed in 2009. That law now provides the FDA with authority over e-cigs. Schumer, however, says the current process--though critical and appreciated--has been a crawl when compared to the e-cig adoption craze among kids. The Senator says the FDA must move faster to beat back the e-cig addiction trend among the teenage age group by banning kid-friendly flavors and marketing attempts that make liquid and chemically-laced nicotine look like an innocent--and delicious--food product.
Despite the known dangers and popularity among teens, e-cigarettes continue to be sold on the market with limited regulation. Last July, the FDA decided to hold off on implementing an already finalized rule that would regulate e-cigarettes. Schumer urged the FDA to move faster on recent actions to reign in the marketing of e-cigarettes with kid-friendly flavors.
According to the urgent action letter signed and sent to the FDA this past April, "The rapid growth in Juul use by high school students demonstrates that the FDA and Juul's manufacturer must do more to prevent the marketing and sale of the product to kids and ensure it is marketed and sold responsibly, consistent with the company's own stated mission of providing 'an alternative to smoking' for adults." And according to the New York State Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Advisory Board, more than one in five New York high school students used e-cigarettes in the last year and New York's rate is higher than the national average.
E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices designed to resemble traditional cigarettes. E-cigarettes contain a mechanism inside the device that heats up liquid nicotine and turns it into a vapor that smokers then inhale and exhale. Unlike conventional cigarettes, however, e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco. This key difference has led some to deem e-cigarettes safer to smoke. However, while not all risks are known, some studies have highlighted the dangers of e-cigarettes. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found some e-cigarettes with higher voltage levels can contain cancer-causing formaldehyde at levels up to 15 times more than regular cigarettes. In addition, e-cigarettes contain nicotine; the Surgeon General has found nicotine has negative health impacts on adolescent brain development. According to the Surgeon General, the effects of nicotine exposure during youth and young adulthood can be long-lasting and can include lower impulse control and mood disorders. The nicotine in e-cigarettes and other tobacco products can prime young brains for addiction to other drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine. Moreover, according to the Surgeon General, youth who use a tobacco product, like e-cigarettes, are more likely to go on to use another tobacco product, like conventional cigarettes.
A 2016 study published in the Environmental Science and Technology found e-cigarettes also contain two new types of carcinogens: propylene oxide and glycidol. The study also suggests the age of the e-cigarette device and temperature play a role in the amount of chemicals produced. For instance, the study tested three types of e-liquids in two different vaporizers. The devices with one heating coil instead of two released higher chemical levels, and the higher the temperature inside the coil, the higher the amount of chemicals produced.
Schumer said a slow moving FDA process to fully regulate e-cigs and curtail kid-friendly flavors could allow flavored e-cigarettes to remain on the market until at least 2022.