SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WGGB) — The pressure is growing for the Federal Drug Administration to issue regulations that would address the making, marketing, and selling of electronic cigarettes, especially when it comes to kids.
It’s estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that nearly two million middle and high school kids tried e-cigs last year. The debate on the proposed changes, though, is still hot.
David Glantz says in the past year electronic cigarettes have been tougher and tougher to keep on his shelves at Buckeye Brother’s Smoke Shop in Springfield.
“It’s an alternative to smoking cigarettes, too,” Glantz said. “Plus with the restrictions on smoking inside and whatever. This is alternative because there’s really no smell to it.”
Or paper, or tar. Instead, a heating element vaporizes liquid, which creates vapor with nicotine. Glantz says many of his customers are trying to quit smoking.
However, unlike real cigarettes, e-cigs come in all colors and flavors, including kid friendly bubble gum, cotton candy, and more. Martha Coakley is one of 40 attorney generals that signed a letter this month, saying e-cigs need to be regulated like real cigarettes so that kids can’t buy them and aren’t lured by advertising. Glantz doesn’t think it’s necessary.
“I really don’t have anybody really looking for any crazy flavors for electronic cigarettes, it’s usually just menthol or regular tobacco flavored,” Glantz said. “The government has to learn to stay out of people’s business. You know, stop being so paternalistic.”
However, while some stores don’t sell the e-cigs in question, you never know which stores will. That’s why some are saying they have to be regulated.
“Nicotine is regulated in all other aspects except in e-cigarettes so it’s one of the things we don’t know about them is how much is being delivered,” Chief Thoracic Surgeon at Baystate Medical Center Dr. Gary Hochheiser said. “Nicotine for adolescents or kids is not a good thing.”
Dr. Hochheiser says doctors have other concerns besides the nicotine.
“We have seen a few health hazards from it with lung problems from we think the delivery,” he said. “Not the nicotine itself but what the nicotine is in.”
Glantz says that’s why stores have to be responsible with checking who they sell to: only adults.
The attorney generals’ letter has asked the FDA issue regulations by October 31st to get the ball rolling. The process has been delayed in the past.