(Albany, NY) At a New York State Senate Health Committee hearing held today by Committee Chairman Kemp Hannon (R-Nassau), several health professionals spoke about the dangers of the increased public use of electronic cigarettes (“e-cigarettes”) and liquid nicotine. The hearing focused on
significant public health questions being raised about the safety of e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine (“e-liquids”), and the vapors they produce.
“The use of e-cigarettes and e-liquids has increased dramatically, while the information about their contents and the safety of their use has not,” Senator Hannon said. “Personally, I was very interested in Dr. Juster’s testimony that indicated the Department of Health’s surveys of cigarette smoking has not shown a decrease over the last three years to correlate with increased sales of e-cigarettes.”
At the hearing, health officials spoke about dangers of handling e-liquids by adults and children, the lack of regulation about their contents, the decline in smoking cessation attempts tied to the rise of e-cigarette use, and the increase in youth using e-cigarette products. Hearing participants referenced the marketing of these products to middle- and high-school students by using flavor combinations, cartoon characters featured on products, and other methods to attract those under 18 to begin smoking.
Harlan Juster, PhD, Director of Bureau of Tobacco Control for the New York State Department of Health, said, “Eighty-eight percent of adult smokers start before the age of 18. That’s a key demographic for the tobacco industry to target because they are the future smokers that are going to replace those who quit and those who die.”
“We are certain that more research is needed, but to date, no study has shown that quitting is enhanced by…use of these products and their use may make it even harder to quit cigarette use,” Dr. Juster said.
Senator Hannon is sponsoring four bills to begin addressing the impacts of these products on public health and safety.
- Bill S7027A prevents the sale of liquid nicotine to minors, requires child-proof packaging and labeling requirements which include an ingredients list and a warning label;
- Bill S7139 requires all sellers of e-cigarettes to be registered with the state Department of Health and be subject to compliance checks.
- Bill S6562 makes smoking e-cigarettes in public places consistent with provisions of the Clean Indoor Air Act; and
- Bill S6939A prevents the sale of the e-liquids sold to refill e-cigarettes and cartridges in New York State.
Senator Hannon said, “The hearing helped give Senators a better understanding of e-cigarettes and e-liquids, which will prove invaluable as we move forward.”