Our View: Sensible e-cigarette regs

Friday , September 19, 2014 - 2:06 PM

Editorial Board

The Weber-Morgan Health Department has proposed regulations for e-cigarettes, ones that would mostly focus on youth. We strongly support these much-needed regulations and urge that they be implemented as soon as possible. This is an urgent issue. E-cigarette use among youth has increased greatly. The popularity of e-cigarettes has exceeded society’s ability to regulate this dangerous product.

The Weber-Morgan proposal’s key component is a compliance check program, similar to what is used with sales of conventional tobacco. According to educational professionals in the Top of Utah, many teens have been able to buy e-cigarette products locally. Making sure that stores and clerks who sell to minors are penalized can reduce the numbers. Also, the regulations call for a license to sell e-cigarette products.

Another main component of the proposed regulations is to reduce the amount of childhood poisonings that are related to the e-cigarettes nicotine liquid system. With the regulations, manufacturers of the nicotine liquid, which is often made in a fruit-like flavor, would require a license and there would be periodic audits of the manufacturers to check safety and cleanliness, with penalties meted out if needed.

As we have mentioned, these regulations mirror conventional tobacco regulations. There is no reason that e-cigarettes should escape similar scrutiny. In fact, the product’s appeal toward those under age 19 is a major reason the regulations are needed. The tobacco industry is always seeking a new generation of smokers to replace the numbers of tobacco users who have quit. In the Weber-Morgan area, the use of e-cigarettes among youth is sharply higher than the overall state numbers. For example, according to the Weber-Morgan Health Department, 30 percent of kids in grades 8, 10, and 12 have experimented with e-cigarettes, compared to only 12 percent statewide.

We can’t ignore these numbers. We can’t allow “sweet” flavors, attractive marketing, and peer pressure to be the impetus to get children using tobacco as adults. Frankly, our Legislature should have enacted these regulations last year. They had a good strong bill, but at the last minute it died. One can only wonder at the lobbying pressure that caused lawmakers to back off.

In the meantime, it’s the job of local authorities to stem the abuse of e-cigarettes by minors. The Weber-Morgan Health Department is meeting the challenge, and its regulations must be passed.

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