NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — When the Food and Drug Administration ruled earlier this month that e-cigarettes will be treated just like all other tobacco products, it meant Connecticut had 30 days to review their own e-cigarette laws and see if changes needed to be made.
The State’s Public Health Commission met Wednesday, with an agenda focused on e-cigarettes and whether Connecticut should do more to regulate their use. Jennifer DeWitt works with the Connecticut Prevention Network, and warns of the dangers posed by e-cigarettes.
“Whether nicotine is delivered through traditional cigarettes or electronic device, it will have some addictive potential,” DeWitt said. “Creating committed customers.”
While the fight against traditional tobacco products has been largely successful, e-cigarettes are a different story. The Centers for Disease Control reported that e-cigarette use among middle school and high school kids has tripled recently and has overtaken all other tobacco products combined.
“We will take a backslide if electronic delivery nicotine devices continue to be available in ways they are currently,” DeWitt said.
Last year, Connecticut passed laws prohibiting sale of e-cigarettes to minors. Wednesday, the commission considered three other options of how to regulate the product for next year. The first is to possibly raise the purchase age for all tobacco products to 21. Second would be to tax e-cigarettes the same as all other tobacco products. The third would regulate marketing for flavored e-cigarettes, which can make them more attractive to young people.
“Let me give you a scary one; 4,900 people are going to die in this state every year from tobacco use and it costs the state $2 billion every year,” said Bryte Johnson, with the American Cancer Society. “And we’re doing nothing about it and it’s entirely preventable.”
Nothing was decided on Wednesday or set in stone. These are all just ideas for next year, when the next legislative session begins.