Until further research is conducted, Campbell said, they should be subject to the same restrictions as traditional tobacco products as it applies to the sale to minors.
Rep. Paul Brodeur, D-Melrose, co-sponsor of the legislation, said he’s motivated to change state law to prevent young people from buying e-cigarettes because he has seen marketing ramped up recently.
“To the extent these things become established as a safe and effective aid in helping people quit smoking, that is fabulous,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to get in the way of that at all.”
However, he said, “When they are marketed by people like Jenny McCarthy ... and have names like Orange Crush and Ghetto Grape, I think it is a little disingenuous to claim there is no effort to target these products to kids.”
The FDA blocked importation of e-cigarettes from 2008 to 2010 by ruling they were “unapproved drug/device combination products” under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. However, that decision was overturned by a federal judge, on the basis that e-cigarettes could be regulated as tobacco products, unless advertised for a therapeutic purpose.
Since their emergence in the US market, awareness and use has continually increased, with 1 in 5 current smokers using e-cigarettes, according to the Committee on Public Health. Some people make the switch from cigarettes to the electronic version in an attempt to quit smoking.
Prices range from around $10 for a typical electronic cigarette that requires replacement liquid cartridges to as much as $70 for a polished wooden model that can be refilled. The products were first developed in China by small manufacturers who were quickly acquired by the tobacco giants.
All three major tobacco companies plan to market their own version of e-cigarettes by the end of the year. R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co. launched its Vuse electronic cigarette this summer in Colorado. Altria Group Inc., parent company of the nation’s largest cigarette maker, Philip Morris USA, will soon debut its product, MarkTen, in Indiana.