U.S. Representative Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) introduced the Protecting Children from Electronic Cigarette Advertising Act to prohibit the advertising of e-cigarettes to children.
Despite serious health concerns, e-cigarettes are currently unregulated. Manufacturers are targeting children and teens through advertising to get them hooked early on nicotine. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1.8 million middle and high school students nationwide have tried e-cigarettes, and over 75% of them have also smoked traditional cigarettes. And these numbers are increasing dramatically. In a single year, 2011 to 2012, the percentage of middle and high school students using e-cigarettes more than doubled.
“Having actively worked on smoking prevention and cessation throughout my career and in my kids’ classrooms, I am very concerned about the widespread marketing of e-cigarettes to children,” said Esty. “Nicotine, a highly addictive drug, has serious impacts on the brain development of children and adolescents. Advertisements for e-cigarettes that highlight flavors like bubblegum or gummy bears and promote cartoon characters are shameless efforts to addict our kids. We’ve made too much progress reducing tobacco use to roll back the clock. This bill is an important first step, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to get it passed.”
In the Connecticut General Assembly, Esty served on the Public Health Committee, where she worked on smoking cessation and prevention.
Click here to view some stark side-by-side comparisons of the marketing tactics by e-cigarette manufacturers and those by the major cigarette manufacturers before these practices were banned.
Electronic cigarettes, also called e-cigarettes, are battery-operated products designed to deliver chemicals, often nicotine, in the form of an inhaled aerosol. Currently, unlike traditional cigarettes and other tobacco products, e-cigarettes can be legally sold to minors under the age of 18 in many states. According to the Surgeon General, 9 out of 10 smokers began smoking before age 18.
There are serious health concerns with e-cigarettes, which may contain carcinogens and toxic chemicals like diethylene glycol, a chemical used in antifreeze. Studies have shown that nicotine use negatively impacts children’s brain development.
The Protecting Children from Electronic Cigarette Advertising Act prohibits advertising, promoting, or marketing e-cigarettes in a manner that increases children’s use of e-cigarettes. The bill would allow for enforcement by state attorneys general and other officials, while also providing a mechanism for states to work with the Federal Trade Commission. This bill is a U.S. House counterpart to the U.S. Senate bill, S.2047.
The bill has been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Letters of support are attached.