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Connecticut does not regulate the sale of electronic cigarettes - the tobacco-free, but nicotine-laced, substitute for regular cigarettes. It should.
E-cigarettes are battery powered devices resembling cigarettes that create a vaporized liquid solution containing nicotine and other chemicals that are inhaled by the user. They have been aggressively marketed as a healthier alternative to cigarettes because they don't contain tobacco.
But the only truly healthy alternative to smoking cigarettes is not smoking anything, including alternatives, electronic or otherwise.
The e-cigarette may not contain tobacco but it does contain addictive nicotine and Public Health Commissioner Jewell Mullen cites research that shows youths who smoke e-cigarettes are more likely to move on to smoking tobacco. The commissioner also notes nine out of ten smokers start before they're 18 and 5.4 million children alive today will die of smoking-related diseases.
"That's a serious health problem, compounded by the very addictive product, nicotine, now available through electronic cigarettes," Ms. Mullen told The Hartford Courant.
Commissioner Mullen and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy have both endorsed Senate Bill 24, which would prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under 18. The bill would impose fines beginning at $200 for the first offense and progressing to $500 for the third and each subsequent sale of the cigarettes to minors. It would also increase already-existing fines for those who sell individual, regular cigarettes out of their packages to minors from $50 to $200. Such sales appear to be increasingly popular as cigarettes become more expensive.
Passage of Senate Bill 24 wouldn't exactly be a radical move, as Connecticut would become the 28th state to regulate the sale and purchase of e-cigarettes. In fact, 40 state attorneys general, including Connecticut's George Jepsen, sent a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last year urging the FDA to classify e-cigarettes as a tobacco product and prohibit its sale to minors.
So let's move ahead with keeping these addictive cigarettes from our children - before their widespread use becomes a habit.