Letter to the editor: E-cigarettes should be regulated by the state
By Erin Hill-Oban, Bismarck
Tobacco Free North Dakota (TFND) would like to add the voice of our organization and our members to the conversation. We have no interest in scaring the public; rather, we feel education and information is important. What we know about e-cigarettes for certain, unfortunately, is pretty minimal.
As of today, there is not enough data collected nor studies conducted to determine how safe or unsafe these products are to prove e-cigarettes are effective cessation devices. Tobacco companies are promoting e-cigarettes as a means to help users quit, but until science backs up that claim, TFND cannot and will not endorse it. NDQuits provides excellent (and free) services — both counseling and access to U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved nicotine replacement therapy — to North Dakotans who wish to quit.
In addition, e-cigarettes are not regulated by the FDA as a tobacco product, and therefore, are neither taxed as such nor have age restrictions placed on their sales. That does, in fact, mean your 10-year-old child or grandchild could legally purchase these devices. Though we hope many retailers in our state would deny their purchase based on morals, it’s irresponsible not to have laws in place to prevent our kids from that kind of access.
TFND is genuinely concerned about reports of e-cigarette explosions, studies that show youth use of e-cigarettes doubling in just one year and the knowledge that adolescents have found ways to alter these devices to smoke other drugs, like marijuana, without a detectable scent.
TFND wants answers and common sense protections put in place by both the FDA and our state policymakers, a goal we will be working toward leading up to the next state legislative session in 2015. In the meantime, we encourage the public to stay informed, proceed with caution, and visit with your district legislators about any shared concerns you may have.
(Hill-Oban is executive director of Tobacco Free North Dakota)