McLaughlin: Age Restrictions Won’t Prevent Minors from Using E-Cigarettes

Curran Mclaughlin

Around the country, 26 states are setting age restrictions on the sale of electronic cigarettes and a handful of states banning the use of e cigarettes in public.

Iowa is likely to pass it’s own law restricting the sale of “alternative nicotine products and vapor products” with H.F. 2109 which is sitting in the senate. Passing the bill seems like a sure thing with support from The Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Stores of Iowa, who encouraged the minimum age to purchase e-cigarettes be 18 and older.

The bill will probably pass into law with all the support it is gaining, but how effective will it really be?

It’s estimated that 23.3% of high school students used tobacco product such as cigarettes in 2012 (e-cigarettes makes up 2.8%.) Most forms of tobacco are already under age restrictions but almost a quarter of the teenage population are using them.

If a person wants it bad enough they will find a way.

I have friends who smoke and they didn’t wait till age 18 to start smoking cigarettes. I remember sitting in the vehicle outside of which ever local gas station we pulled up to while the only 18 year old of the group went in with my friend’s money and bought cigarettes for the group to share (except for me.) There was never a problem before any of them turned 18 to get their hands on cigarettes or chewing tobacco.

What will barring e-cigarettes from minor purchases really do?

It will just make it a little bit harder for the minor to acquire the person. This isn’t going to deter a rebellious teenager from purchasing e-cigs. If anything, this could cause the minor to move up from electronic cigarettes to real cigarettes, since they are taking the risk they might as well do the greater of the two evils.

E-Cigarettes are by no means completely safe.

E-Cigarettes are advertised as a healthy alternative to smokers to help stop smoking. This isn’t completely true.

E-cigarettes ingredients include nicotine and other chemicals that are found in cigarettes. These chemicals have been proven to be harmful and cause carcinogenic. Nicotine is also known as the addictive substance found in regular cigarettes. Anybody who chooses to switch to e-cigarettes as a method to quit smoking will still have control over how much nicotine they can consume.

It’s still unclear on whether e-cigarettes prove as an effective method of quitting smoking and health effects of prolonged use. Studies have still yet to come out to give the FDA the needed information to decide regulatory action and how harmful it actually is to its users.

E-cigarettes still have their benefits compared to the old fashioned method though.

E-cigarettes aren’t smoked, instead it’s more of inhaling vapor of the heated up chemicals in the device. This eliminates the tar and tobacco inhalation that would come with cigarettes, which cuts down some of the toxic elements that are inhaled.

Plus, since e-cigarettes aren’t actually smoked there isn’t the awful odor left by regular cigarette smoke. Odorless vapor allows e-cigarette smokers to hang around public places without bothering the people surrounding them.

There’s still a lot to be found about e-cigarettes and their benefits and side effects, but that won’t stop the government from restricting its sale to minors.

Whether that will actually do anything to keep the product out of hands, well it seems doubtful. Kids who are tempted to smoke e-cigarettes will find a way to try the product out and may even move on other smoking products.