I could not agree more with Sen. Jack Reed’s statement: “E-cigarette manufacturers should have to play by the same rules as others in the cigarette industry” (“Reed co-authored report calls for regulation of e-cigarette marketing,” April 21, 2014).
Which is precisely why the American Lung Association, along with 50 other organizations of the Tobacco Free Rhode Island network, strongly supports House Bill 7021, legislation that would apply current state tobacco-product regulations to e-cigarettes, including eliminating the sale of e-cigarettes to youth.
H7021, sponsored by Rep. Helio Melo, D-East Providence, is a new-and-improved version of the bill that Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee rightly vetoed last year because it circumvented tobacco-product laws.
H7021 is endorsed by every major public-health-policy organization in Rhode Island. And now that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a proposed rule indicating that it will regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products, H7021 will align Rhode Island regulations with the proposed federal regulations. The federal regulatory process will take at least a year before implementation could begin, so it is important to pass a state law now to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of minors and require a state tobacco license for all vendors so the law can be enforced.
The health consequences of using e-cigarettes and of breathing their second-hand emissions are unknown.
There is currently no scientific evidence supporting the safety of e-cigarettes, therefore we urge the General Assembly to pass H7021 this year to protect Rhode Island children from this highly addictive new tobacco product.
Karina Holyoak Wood
Director, public policy, American Lung Association in Rhode Island