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New vaping laws restrict e-cigarette access to youth

Though statistics from the Texas School Survey show cigarette and other tobacco usage among youth have steadily declined in Region 9, it is undeniable how prevalent e-cigarettes have become as a perceived “safe” alternative. Teen “vaping” has increased steadily in the past five years, and largely because of marketability, a decreased perception of harm, and easiness of access.[i] Throughout the Permian Basin, vape shops have grown into a thriving business. Shopping malls, which attract many youth as a social gathering location, have become a major hub for vaping kiosks because of their reduced restrictions on purchasing and economical productivity as opposed to cigarettes and other tobacco products.[ii]

However, effective today, new federal regulations will make it harder for vaping to reach teenagers. As of today, the Food and Drug Administration will have to approve all e-cigarette products that have been available since February 2007.[iii] That means nearly every e-cigarette product on the market must go through an application process to deem whether it can continue to be sold. Manufacturers will be able to keep selling their products for up to two years while they submit a new production application, plus an additional year while the FDA reviews it. Moreover, vape shops cannot give free samples to customers or sell to people younger than 18, under the new regulations. Merchants will be required to ask for identification from customers who appear to be under the age of 27. Vending machine sales of e-cigarettes are also prohibited unless the machines are in adult-only facilities. Also covered are premium, hand-rolled cigars, as well as hookah and pipe tobacco. Before the new regulations, there was no federal law prohibiting retailers from selling e-cigarettes, hookah tobacco or cigars to minors, though almost all states already prohibit such sales.

Though some evidence has shown vaping involves less chemicals, can be “safer,” and can ween heavy smokers to smoking less, evidence shows minimal differences between vaping and smoking as it pertains to the health of the smoker.[iv] In many ways, the scientific community is divided over the issue, but most scientific consensus over vaping continues to be over the fact it should be out of the hands and bodies of children. [v]

By Kevin Thompson Regional Evaluator Region 9 Prevention Resource Center kthompson@pbrcada.org

[i] Mello S, Bigman CA, Sanders-Jackson A, Tan AS, “Perceived Harm of Secondhand Electronic Cigarette Vapors and Policy Support to Restrict Public Vaping: Results From a National Survey of US Adults,” Oxford University Press, Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, 2015.

[ii] Music City Mall, http://www.musiccitymall.net/directory.php.

[iii] Madhani A, “It’s about to get a lot harder for minors to vape,” USA TODAY, August 8, 2016.

[iv] Knapton S, “E-cigarettes are no safer than smoking tobacco, scientists warn,” Telegraph Science, December 29, 2015.

[v] Keenan S, “Vape Culture Attracts Teens, Poses Harmful Risks,” Huffington Post, September 29, 2015.


Published August 8, 2016.

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