Debate over e-cigarettes increases; so does number of teens buying them – The Macomb Daily

The controversy over teens smoking e-cigarettes is growing as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports more middle and high school students are using them.

So far efforts to stop the sale to teens haven’t succeeded.

That’s why Michigan Rep. Gail Haines is trying to get a law passed that would ban the sale of the electronic smoking devices to teens. She said they contain nicotine and therefore, should fall into the already prohibited sale of tobacco products to youth under 18.

“Nicotine is Nicotine,” said the Republican lawmaker, who represents Waterford, Lake Angeles, Clarkston and Independence Township.

There also is the growing use of the e-cigarettes to smoke other substances, such as hash (marijuana) oil inserted in the cartridges.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said Thursday that narcotics officers have told him they are seeing an increase.

“They are seeing more of it in raids and on tables,” during raids, Bouchard said. “You could walk through a mall smoking one (with hash oil) and no one would know.” He said the oil vaporizes so it doesn’t have the strong smell of a marijuana cigarette.

Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, are battery-operated and designed to deliver nicotine, flavors and other chemicals, according to the FDA. They heat the chemicals, including highly addictive nicotine, into an aerosol that is inhaled by the user.

Haines said the number of teens using the devices that look like cigarettes has dramatically increased just in the past year and “they are offered in candy-like flavors such as raspberry and cheesecake,” she added. Some come with the cartridges and liquids can be purchased to refill them.

“Marketing is almost predatory,” Haines said.. “They are being portrayed as glamorous and cool…with celebrities, kids are being bombarded with these ads.

“The problem is there has not been enough research done. The results of these e-cigarettes could be catastrophic,” she said.

The e-cigarettes do not fall under FDA rules now, but the agency has issued a proposed rule that would extend its tobacco authority to cover additional products that meet the legal definition of a tobacco product, such as e-cigarettes.

Parents need to be made aware of the possible danger, said Michelle Quarton, consultant for special populations for Oakland Schools Technology Campus Northeast. She has done research on the devices and said she fears the trend of using them to smoke marijuana in California may spread to Michigan.

Bouchard, too, is in favor of legislation.

“ I think it is appropriate to look at keeping them out of the hands of minors,” he said.

“We have seen more and more (substances) go to vapor. They could introduce hash oil or anything to vapor,” Bouchard noted.

Haines’s bill was heard by the House Regulatory Reform Committee Wednesday April 30, but she said it did not receive much support. She said she is hoping parents will take up the cause to help get the bill passed.

“There has been misinformation regarding this legislation. It does not tax e-cigarettes or limit adult use. It does prohibit sales to minors, requires child-proof containers, and modernizes the definition of tobacco products,” said Haines.

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