Bill Banning Sale of E-Cigarettes to Texas Youth Takes Effect
On October 1, Texas joined 40 other states by restricting youth under the age of 18 from purchasing, possessing, consuming or accepting as a gift e-cigarettes or any other vapor product. Senate Bill 97, passed by the 84th Legislature, places e-cigarettes under the same restrictions that cover all tobacco products, including limiting outdoor advertising within 1,000 feet of a church or school.
This is good news because e-cigarettes contain varying levels of nicotine, which is addictive, and may contain dangerous carcinogens. According to the 2014 Texas School Survey, Texas youth use e-cigarettes more than any tobacco product. Almost 25% of all middle and high school students report lifetime e-cigarette use compared to 19.9% who have used regular cigarettes. Almost twice as many middle and high school students have used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days (14%) than regular cigarettes (7.4%).
One area of concern that remains despite the new law is the relative ease with which underage youth can purchase e-cigarettes over the Internet. Senate Bill 97 originally included two stringent measures for identification in order to purchase e-cigarettes online. The two measures included requiring a photocopy or other image of a government issued ID for purchase and an adult signature upon delivery of the product. Both items were left out of the final version of the bill.
A 2014 study conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina and presented by the American Public Health Association indicated that minors could easily access e-cigarettes via the Internet. In that study, minors successfully purchased and took delivery from 76.5% of the purchase attempts, and 95% of the orders that were delivered were simply left at the door.
E-cigarettes currently are not regulated at the federal level. However, on October 19, the Food and Drug Administration forwarded to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) its final recommendation for the regulation of the products. The FDA proposal calls for defining e-cigarettes as tobacco products and regulating them as tobacco products, including banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and calling for a nicotine warning on the packaging. The White House OMB has 90 days to review the proposal and make a final ruling.