The FDA enacted a regulation on e-cigarettes in 2016 that banned the sale of e-cigarettes with nicotine to those younger than 18. Yet, in states without laws affirming that regulation, law enforcement can’t keep kids from purchasing the nicotine-delivery devices.
Though e-cigarettes for adult use should not be regulated the same as tobacco products, they should be regulated and policed like other substances that pose health risks to children.
The sole purpose of an e-cigarette is to deliver nicotine to the bloodstream. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm brain development. In addition, some of the liquids contain flavor agent like diacetyl, a compound known to cause extensive lung scarring (called popcorn lung) and cancer, according to the surgeon general.
Despite these risks, an alarming number of kids are using them.
According to a survey conducted by scientists from the University of Michigan, nearly one in three students in 12th grade nationwide said they used some kind of vaping device in the last year, and nearly 17 percent of those students have used a device in the last month.
And they aren’t just using it to get a nicotine buzz — a third of monthly users say they use the devices to ingest marijuana.
The most popular of these devices, a sleek thumb-drive called juul, costs only $50, the equivalent of mowing a few lawns. And kids can purchase them at nearly any corner store, despite that purchase being illegal under the FDA regulation.
The failure to enact a state law means local law enforcement can’t conduct stings and issue fines to convenience stores that sell to underaged kids.
As with cigarettes or alcohol, kids can always find some adult who will get it for them, but state government shouldn’t make it easy for kids to pump themselves full of nicotine just because it wants to make some cash.