Health officials support prohibiting sale of e-cigarettes to kid - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Health officials support prohibiting sale of e-cigarettes to kids

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Electronic cigarettes have become increasingly popular throughout the nation and it's no different here on Guam. But because they're highly unregulated, it's fallen into the hands of our island's youth. Legislation aims to prevent just that.

Senator Dennis Rodriguez Jr. says while there's still a lot of unknown information about electronic cigarettes, it's better to air on the side of caution. "When it comes to the protection of children and minors, this is the way we would like to go and protect them," he said.

Bill 264 would prohibit the sale or distribution of e-cigarettes to minors. Chuck Tanner from the Guam Comprehensive Cancer Control Coalition dispelled the several myths people may have about e-cigarettes one of which is that it's safer. "Non-smokers of tobacco products may be at risk to addition for smoking electronic cigarettes in addition, although electronic cigarettes don't generate smoke via burning tobacco it does not mean it's not safer to use to conventional cigarettes," he said.

Peter Cruz from the Tobacco Control Team of the Non-Communicable Disease Consortium says its this kind of misguided information that has caused the surge of popularity in e-cigarettes. Cruz stresses the main ingredient of e-cigarettes is still nicotine. "Currently, the CDC has an estimate of 25 percent of high school students have used electronic cigarette big tobacco companies have found yet another method of delivery specifically aimed for the younger generation of society the absence of regulatory monitoring has put this population at dire risk it's accessibility, simplicity of operation and endless amount of flavors or commonly known as e-juicing has made this product so popular with the youth," he said.

The current usage of e-cigarettes has been reported to be highly prevalent among Guam's middle and high school students. And for Public Health director James Gillan, he believes Bill 264 needs to be stronger. "This does not go far enough, it's a tobacco product, it's been deemed to be a tobacco product by FDA and I think we ought to tax it as such," he said.

Gillan has already prohibited the use of e-cigarettes in any Public Health building. And while those who sell e-cigarettes were against the taxing suggestion, Vape Guam owner Evan Diras says even without the regulations, he's treated e-cigarettes like other tobacco products and doesn't sell to minors. "I can speak for the rest of the other stores that are open, we all agreed that we don't sell to minors before this thing ever came up yes, we see a lot of minors using the e-cigarettes, but I think its beyond our control," he said.

Gillan meanwhile says the FDA is set to roll out regulations in late spring. A number of states like California, Colarado and Maryland have passed measures banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors whereas Hawaii, Iowa and New York have pending legislation under consideration.

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