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e-Cigarettes and Kids:
e-Cigarettes have been touted as an incredibly powerful tool in helping smokers kick the habit. For those of you who haven't seen them, e-Cigarettes are cigarette-shaped inhalers with a battery-operated heating element that heats liquid cartridges which usually contain nicotine. The user inhales the resulting vapor, much like a cigarette. (It's called "vaping", not "smoking")
E-cigarettes satisfy a smoker's ingrained habits and nicotine addiction but do not expose users to the dangerous tar and carcinogens in tobacco. They have become increasingly popular in the last couple of years and many ex-smokers swear by them.
What has been less popular about e-cigarettes, however, is their use by kids and teens. Nicotine can actually change the structure of still-growing brains. Studies have shown that kids and teens are especially susceptible to nicotine addiction, becoming hooked within 2 days form their first puff.
Laws regulating cigarettes don't apply to e-Cigarettes
E-cigarettes were banned in the U.S. until 2010. That year, a federal court said that the Food and Drug Administration could not ban e-cigarettes but could regulate them. To date, however, the FDA has not issued any regulations. Until that happens:
· It is legal for kids and teens to purchase e-cigarettes, either in person or online.
· There is no advertising ban on them (cigarette ads have been banned from American TV since 1971). Some companies have glamorous TV ad campaigns featuring celebrities.
· There are no standards on what chemicals can be in the liquid. The FDA tested the cartridges of two brands in 2009 and found carcinogens and toxic chemicals, such as diethylene glycol (found in anti-freeze).
The Attorney Generals of by 40 states (including Missouri's Chris Koster and Illinois' Lisa Madigan) recently signed a letter to the FDA urging the agency to regulate e-cigarettes, at least until the health implications surrounding them are known.
In the meantime, states and local governments are left trying to decide what, if any, restrictions should be placed on their sale and use to minors.