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Rep. Matt Lehman, seen holding an e-cigarette, authored a law setting regulations on the product’s sale in Indiana.

Hoosiers ahead of curve

E-cigarettes’ sale under regulation

Electronic cigarettes represent a growing market share of the cigarette industry but, unlike chewing tobacco and traditional cigarettes, they contain no tobacco and are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

A Bloomberg News editorial in The Journal Gazette Aug. 21 called for the Food and Drug Administration to regulate e-cigarettes.

Organizations such as the American Lung Association have urged the FDA to halt the sale and distribution of all e-cigarettes unless the products have been reviewed and approved for sale by the agency.

E-cigarettes are a battery-operated, flameless, odorless product that produces a water vapor instead of smoke and is used in the same manner as a regular cigarette.

The market for these products has rapidly expanded. The makers have created e-cigarettes in many shapes and sizes and flavors. Some look like traditional cigarettes, while others resemble cigars or pipes. While e-cigarettes are not a tobacco product, they still contain nicotine, the highly addictive drug found in regular cigarettes.

E-cigarettes are particularly enticing to young people because of their flavored nicotine cartridges such as chocolate and strawberry. They are touted as a safer alternative to traditional smoking and are easily accessible on the Internet and at mall kiosks. While they are promoted as a “safer” alternative to tobacco products, limited research on e-cigarettes makes it difficult to fully understand their risks.

Here in Indiana, we have already implemented a new law which limits young Hoosiers’ access to e-cigarettes. This past session, I authored House Enrolled Act 1225, which prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone younger than 18. The law, which went into effect on July 1, applies the same sales regulations to e-cigarettes that are already in place on regular cigarettes.

Minors are not allowed to buy traditional tobacco cigarettes and should not have access to e-cigarettes either. This bill had wide support, including backing from the manufacturers of e-cigarettes, and is a great first step.

As the FDA begins its regulatory action this fall, I am proud that Indiana did not take a wait-and-see attitude when it comes to the health and welfare of our young people.

I hope that the FDA will take note of this and further study the long-term effects of e-cigarettes – not just for minors but for the safety of us all.

Rep. Matt Lehman represents all of Adams County and portions of Allen and Wells counties. He serves as the deputy speaker pro tempore and chairman of the Insurance Committee. He wrote this for The Journal Gazette.

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