May 28, 2014

Editorial: Federal oversight becomes a must

All of a sudden, there is a fierce public debate over electronic cigarettes, ostensibly created to help ease smokers off the real, tobacco ones.

It’s time for the federal government to take charge.

States from coast to coast have considered bills to either restrict the age at which the so-called e-cigarettes can be purchased, halt Internet sales or increase the state taxes on these products.

Some states are trying to extend smoking bans in public places to include the use of e-cigarettes.

Vermont debated whether to impose a 92-percent tax, in an effort to curtail their sales, especially to minors. That tax was defeated at the end of this spring’s legislative session, with opponents arguing that the devices do accomplish some good in that they can help release some smokers from the hold of tobacco. To place an imposing tax on a product that is designed to create a positive outcome for tobacco addicts would be wrong, they contended.

Press-Republican staffers know a number of smokers who, hoping to kick the habit, have tried the e-cigarettes, to no avail. It obviously works for some people, but not for any we’ve yet encountered.

Meanwhile, there is evidence that producers of e-cigarettes may have a much less benign motive in marketing their product, as officials of the Adirondack Tobacco Free Network pointed out to P-R Staff Writer Ashleigh Livingston in Tuesday’s edition.

They noted that e-cigarettes are being manufactured in a variety of flavors designed to tempt young would-be smokers. Tobacco giants Phillip Morris, R.J. Reynolds and Lorillard, among others, are developing tasty choices. Who would be vulnerable to such marketing? Kids, of course. That would be a way to groom the next generation of tobacco smokers.

And the market for e-cigarettes appears to be a lucrative one, as well. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey showed 2.7 percent of U.S. adults had tried them by 2010, up from 0.6 percent a year earlier.

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