The American Academy of Pediatrics – the AAP asks for tougher e-cigarette regulations, with a new set of recommendations recently published.
Both tobacco products and e-cigarettes are considered a threat to the health of children and teenagers. While there are many detractors to the idea that e-cigarettes are harmful, there is a growing body of literature that deals with their effects on health, as well as their use as gateways to using tobacco products.
E-cigarettes are advertised as smoking cessation products. However, the content of the liquids used for vaping includes not only nicotine (in some cases), but also a long list of additives and pyrazines. Many are indeed approved by the FDA. However, these additives and pyrazines are approved for different uses. Given the novelty of e-cigarettes, there is little research that could pinpoint the effects that the additives and pyrazines may have on one’s health when burned or inhaled as hot vapor.
Against this background, the AAP asks for tougher e-cigarette regulations, particularly with view to teenagers. To this extent, increasing the legal age for purchasing e-cigarettes and tobacco products to 21 is one of the recommendations.
In addition, the three policy statements issued on Monday add recommendations on regulation, reducing dependence on and exposure to nicotine and tobacco, family counseling and other areas. The American Academy of Pediatrics is calling for a synergistic approach to cut tobacco and e-cigarette use with teenagers. Child exposure to e-cigarette liquid and vapors, as well as tobacco smoke is also of concern.
Increasing the age restriction won’t do much by itself. Both tobacco products and e-cigarettes need to be addressed in the same manner. Taxes must reach similar levels. Advertising these products to youth should be banned. With e-cigarettes, a number of vaping liquids are labeled with names such as Gummy Bear, Bubble Gum, Cotton Candy, Vanilla Candy, etc. Reminding of the flavoring additives included in the liquid mix, they target teenagers who are rapidly attracted to these sweet-sounding names.
Children may be particularly attracted by the scent of e-cigarette liquid. In 2014, over 3,000 cases of ingestion of such sweet-scented liquids were reported. The effects of nicotine on children, second hand smokers and smokers as well are already detailed in a number of medical studies.
According to one of the statements of the American Academy of Pediatrics:
“Tobacco use continues to be a major health threat to children, adolescents and adults. The developing brains of children and teens are particularly vulnerable to nicotine, which is why the growing popularity of e-cigarettes among adolescents is so alarming and dangerous to their long-term health”.
Further information on how e-cigarettes may act as gateways to using tobacco products and their popularity with U.S. teenagers may be found with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as with the American Academy of Pediatrics.
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