The New York State Senate today passed two bills that would help prevent teen smoking by prohibiting the free distribution of electronic cigarettes to minors under 18 and preventing e-cigarette use on school grounds.
One of the bills (S1223), sponsored by Senator Fred Akshar (R-C-I, Colesville), would prohibit the free distribution of e-cigarettes to anyone under 18 years old. Despite current law prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, manufacturers are able to take advantage of a loophole that allows them to distribute free samples of their products to minors – a particular problem at music festivals and other large events.
Senator Akshar said, “This is about protecting our communities’ children - simple as that. Allowing e-cigarette companies to exploit a loophole and distribute free samples to minors is unacceptable and needs to stop.”
Another bill (S750), sponsored by Senator Patty Ritchie (R-C, Heuvelton), would discourage smoking by children by prohibiting e-cigarette use on school grounds. While many school grounds are already designated as “tobacco-free,” e-cigarettes don’t contain tobacco. This measure would help schools continue to restrict youth from using e-cigarettes at school.
Senator Ritchie said, “While much is still unknown about how e-cigarettes impact health, it has been shown that their vapor—which contains nicotine—can be harmful. Schools are meant to be safe places for our young people, however, when we allow children to be exposed to things like e-cigarettes, we put their health at risk and also open them up to the possibility of picking up other damaging habits, like smoking cigarettes. I am pleased to support this measure, which has the potential to make our schools safer, healthier places for children.”
E-cigarettes deliver vapor that is inhaled by a user, and typically delivers addictive nicotine through an unregulated electronic device. The Surgeon General reported in 2016 that e-cigarette use had surpassed conventional cigarette use among youth in America, with over 3 million middle and high school students stating in a national survey that they had used the products in the previous 30 days. Principal risks of e-cigarette use include adverse health effects, nicotine addiction, potential gateway drug status, and the renormalization of smoking, specifically amongst minors.
The bills have been sent to the Assembly.