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Board of Health urges state legislature to toughen up on e-cigarettes

March 5, 2015

Comprehensive legislation needed to prevent youth access to e-cigarettes, vapor products

TACOMA, Wash. – Yesterday, Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health passed a resolution urging the state legislature to pass tougher laws to regulate electronic cigarettes.

It was the second time in four years that the local public health agency has taken a leadership position on efforts to prevent youth access to tobacco products, e-cigarettes and related vapor products.

“Our Board of Health is taking a tough stance on alternative tobacco products and the harmful impact they have on the health of our youth,” said Director of Health Anthony L-T Chen, MD, MPH. “We urge the legislature to regulate and tax these products in a fashion consistent with other nicotine products,” Chen said.

The resolution states that the Board is prepared to adopt additional local regulations to prevent youth from accessing electronic cigarettes and related vapor products in Pierce County if state legislative action does not adequately protect the health of youth, according to Chen.

Currently, Washington state legislature is considering several bills that would:

  • Prohibit the sale of electronic cigarettes and related vapor products to minors.
  • Tax such products at levels similar to tobacco products.
  • Impose limits on the marketing, labeling and distribution of electronic cigarettes.
In 2011, the Board of Health became one of the first local health jurisdictions in the state of Washington to adopt regulations prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and limiting the use of e-cigarettes in public places. Since then, the impact of e-cigarettes has worsened. A recent statewide report found that 8 percent of eighth-graders, 18 percent of 10th graders, and 23 percent of 12th graders had used e-cigarettes within 30 days of the survey. Locally, calls from residents to the Washington State Poison Control Center concerning e-cigarettes have increased 15-fold, from two in 2012 to 29 in 2014.

E-cigarettes are products that deliver a nicotine-containing aerosol (commonly called vapor) to users by heating a solution typically made of nicotine, unknown and potentially toxic chemicals, and flavoring agents. Nicotine is harmful to youth because it impacts normal brain development. However, e-cigarettes continue to be marketed in a variety of flavors meant to appeal to youth – such as chocolate and cotton candy.

About Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department:
Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s mission is to safeguard and enhance the health of the communities of Pierce County. As part of its mission, the Health Department tackles known and emerging health risks through policy, programs and treatment in order to protect public health. Learn more at www.tpchd.org.

Contact:

Edie Jeffers, Communications Manager (253) 798-2853, (253) 405-6822 (cell/text), ejeffers@tpchd.org

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