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Bill Banning E-cigarette Sales To Texas Children Heads To Governor’s Desk

A bill to stop children under 18 from buying electronic cigarettes has been approved by the Texas legislature and awaits the governor’s signature.


eGo style e-cigarette. Image credit: Wikipedia

If Governor Greg Abbott signs the bill, Texas could join more than forty other states that already forbid the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.

"We're delighted that the legislature took that action," said Dr. Ernest Hawk, a vice president at MD Anderson Cancer Center and head of the Division of Cancer Prevention & Population Sciences.

New CDC data shows that use of e-cigarettes tripled among teenagers between 2013 and 2014.

Thirteen percent of high schoolers have used them, compared to nine percent who have used regular cigarettes.

"There aren't long-term studies yet to know what the health effects of inhaling those substances are, so it leaves a big question in most people's minds regarding their long-term safety," Hawk said.

Even if an e-cigarette has fewer harmful chemicals than a regular cigarette — a debate that is by no means settled — it still delivers nicotine, Hawk said.

Nicotine is known to be highly addictive, Hawk emphasized, and e-cigarettes could feed that addiction as easily — or more easily — than conventional tobacco cigarettes. "While an adult may be capable of making that decision for themselves, we think it's really important to try to avoid addicting youth," Hawk said.

Hawk also called on state officials to do more, including passing a statewide ban on smoking in restaurants, bars and other public places.

"We have that in most of the major municipalities of the state, but not yet statewide. And so a lot of the unincorporated areas still have no restrictions on public smoking," he said.

Texas also lags behind most other states in spending on anti-tobacco education and programs to help people quit, Hawk said. The state spends about $11 million dollars annually, but the Centers for Disease Control calculates that Texas should be spending $264 million every year, given statewide smoking rates and other factors such as poverty levels.


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