The Daily’s editorial promoting passage of two state Senate bills that would add electronic cigarettes to the existing law prohibiting tobacco sales to minors was well-intended but poorly informed. The piece does say some positive things about the health risks of e-cigarettes, their addictiveness and the way the industry is targeting kids (very aggressively — just look at Sports Illustrated’s recent swimsuit issue). However, it also promotes e-cigarettes for cessation and opposes public health experts’ position that e-cigarettes need to be regulated clearly as the drug delivery tobacco products that they are.
The federal courts have already ruled, in fact, that the Food and Drug Administration, which is expected to act soon, must classify e-cigarettes as tobacco products for purposes of regulating them for health and safety. In addition, the Michigan Department of Community Health and Republican Gov. Rick Snyder oppose the pending Senate bills for the same reason. Make no mistake: these bills were written by and are supported by the tobacco industry, which now owns the majority of the e-cigarette market. There is much more at stake than the minimum age law, and if e-cigarettes are given a special classification that insulates them against standard health and safety regulation, not to mention taxation, our citizens will suffer.
E-cigarettes are not regulated, are not standardized and are not approved or proven effective for cessation. To the contrary, there is significant evidence that they keep many smokers smoking conventional cigarettes, rather than help them quit.
Michigan should not follow the example of other states whose e-cigarette laws have been written by Big Tobacco. It should stand up for public health and enact stronger laws that effectively regulate e-cigarettes for health and safety.
Clifford Douglas, J.D., is the director of the University’s Tobacco Research Network