Let’s be clear. E-cigarettes are intended only for adult smokers and adults who vape. We are adamantly opposed to minors using vapor products, and we support federal, state and local restrictions on their use by underage consumers.
While new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show a rise in the use of e-cigarettes and hookahs among middle and high school students, the survey also revealed no decline in overall tobacco use between 2011 and 2014, which means minors are still trying many different products.
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The survey provides no evidence that e-cigs lead to continued use among minors and raises questions about the data collection methodology, which are corroborated by a New York Times column and by Michael Siegel, a professor at Boston University’s School of Public Health with more than 25 years in the field of tobacco control.
The rise of e-cigarette use among teens is concerning, and the industry works tirelessly to help prevent underage access at retail and online. We lobbied Congress in early 2013 to enact age verification laws for vapor products. We support prevention programs, including We Card™ and our own Age To Vape™ initiative, and we encourage the use of widely available, robust Web-based systems to verify age and identity online.
Some teens experiment, and it’s vital that parents and guardians talk to their children about not using any age-restricted products, whether alcohol, tobacco or e-cigs. It’s also important to focus on the fact that e-cigs and vapor products are considered 95% less harmful alternatives to smoking, according to Peter Hajek, of the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine at London’s Queen Mary University.
Meanwhile, according to the CDC’s own data, 1,300 people die daily from the use of combustible tobacco.
More than 42 million people still smoke in the U.S., but happily, 70% want to quit, and e-cigs are a viable solution to smoking. While we applaud the efforts of state and federal public health officials and the decrease in smoking thus far, we know millions more will die unless there’s support for e-cigs replacing combustible tobacco products.
Cynthia Cabrera is executive director for the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association.