The Centers for Disease Control released a report last month (in a major catch-up mode right now with the Lounge going down for a couple of weeks), that the use of e-cigs more than doubled from 2011-2012.
I reiterate … I reiterate until I make your eyes bleed reading it, I don’t have a problem with e-cigs EXCEPT for the way they are being marketed to kids. Sure enough, according to the CDC, the use of e-cigs rose from 4.7 in 2011 to more than 10 percent in 2012 among high school and middle school kids (I cringe at what the rate is today, it takes a year or two to compile this data.). 10 percent in 2012? That rate might be 25 or 30 percent by 2014.
According to the CDC press release:
“These data show a dramatic rise in usage of e-cigarettes by youth, and this is cause for great concern as we don’t yet understand the long-term effects of these novel tobacco products,” said Mitch Zeller, director of FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. “These findings reinforce why the FDA intends to expand its authority over all tobacco products and establish a comprehensive and appropriate regulatory framework to reduce disease and death from tobacco use.”
Unlike cigarettes, there are absolutely no regulations regarding the marketing of e-cigs. Big Tobacco in the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement agreed to stop marketing — at least blatantly marketing — to teens. That meant no more Joe Camel, and no more product placement of tobacco products in PG and PG-13 movies. The MSA was a badly flawed agreement, but that is genuinely one of the really good things that came out of it — marketing of tobacco products to kids (or what Big Tobacco calls, “new smokers,”) has ostensibly stopped.
However, the FDA recently completely punted on controlling the marketing of e-cigs to kids. The FDA did ban e-cig sales to minors, but run away like a spinless banshee from the idea of controlling the advertising of e-cigs, apparently paranoid over a First Amendment lawsuit (never mind the fact that nicotine is now officially a federally controlled substance, like Vicodin or codeine, which means the FDA has the regulatory authority over how it’s promoted … it’s THEM, not ME). Me — and thousands of others, hopefully — wrote the FDA about this and told them they were screwing the pooch on this issue and hopefully when the agency releases the final version of its regs, it will show more spine over marketing of e-cigs. Then again, I’m not holding my breath.
I’m perfectly OK with e-cigs being used by people trying to quit cigarettes, especially as a last resort when all else has failed, in fact I’ve urged my brother to try e-cigs, but I am not OK with kids using e-cigs instead of cigarettes. E-cigs still contain nicotine, which is a staggering addictive substance and it doesn’t do anyone any good for kids to get physically addicted to something that has little other value than a short-term jolt of energy.