To the Editor,
On May 5, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made a landmark announcement giving the agency the authority to regulate electronic cigarettes, hookah tobacco, cigars, pipe tobacco, dissolvables and any future tobacco products. Prior to this rule, only traditional combustible cigarettes were regulated by the FDA under provisions of the 2009 Family Smoking and Tobacco Prevention Act of 2009. This deeming rule bans the sale of electronic cigarettes to people 18 and under nationwide and will require that health warnings be placed on all packaging and advertisements for these products. New York State began banning the sale of liquid nicotine to people under the age of 18 in 2014 and also requires that liquid nicotine, the main ingredient in e-cigarettes, be sold in child-resistant packaging.
This action by the FDA is a reminder to decision makers that there is still more work to be done in order to rescue a new generation of youth from a lifetime of nicotine addiction and the predatory ways of the tobacco industry. Every year in New York State over 28,000 people die of tobacco related illnesses. Ninety nine percent of all current smokers started smoking before the age of 26. This startling statistic demonstrates the urgent need for local policies that will de-normalize tobacco use and make it less likely that youth will start smoking. Some solutions include policies that will restrict tobacco marketing to kids and those that will restrict the use of tobacco use in public places like parks and playgrounds. The FDA deeming rule is a step in the right direction. Now it is time for local governments to ask themselves what else they can be doing to prevent our kids from smoking.
Director, POW’R Against Tobacco
American Lung Association of the Northeast