Massachusetts Medical Society Urges Prohibiting Sale of E-Cigarettes to Minors, Use in Smoke-free Workplaces

Offers testimony before Joint Committee on Public Health; Cites them as "gateway product to tobacco abuse and troubling for youth"

Contact: Richard P. Gulla 
Tel: 781-434-7101 
Email: rgulla@mms.org

Waltham, Mass. – October 1, 2013 – The Massachusetts Medical Society today offered testimony before the legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Health in strong support of House 3639, An Act Modernizing Tobacco Control and Protecting the Health of Minors, legislation that would prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to individuals under 18 years of age and prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in locations where the smoke-free workplace law applies. The bill would also prohibit manufacturers and retailers from distributing free samples of e-cigarettes.

Louis Fazen, M.D., chair of the Massachusetts Medical Society’s Public Health Committee, testified on behalf of the physicians’ organization, which has more than 24,000 physicians and medical students as members.   

In its testimony, the Society acknowledged that while the tobacco industry and some policymakers view e-cigarettes as less hazardous alternatives to combustible cigarettes, it is “among those that see them as a gateway product to tobacco abuse and nicotine addiction and support restricting the sale of such products, similar to the sale of cigarettes.”  

The Society further said the “current widespread availability of e-cigarettes is especially troubling for youth, to whom the product is targeted. E-cigarette cartridges are available in a variety of flavors that appeal to youth (such as bubblegum, chocolate and mint), and can be purchased at mall kiosks, where young people often congregate, as well as online, where safeguards against youth access can be breached more easily than in face-to-face purchases.”

The Society noted that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently developing a strategy to regulate e-cigarettes containing tobacco as tobacco products, but said that state and local governments are not prevented from taking action, and that “House 3639 is a good step in the right direction…it will help reduce youth initiation to nicotine and tobacco products, protect the health of all users, and promote the enforcement of smoke-free laws.”

The Massachusetts Medical Society, with more than 24,000 physicians and student members, is dedicated to educating and advocating for the patients and physicians of Massachusetts. The Society, under the auspices of NEJM Group, publishes the New England Journal of Medicine, a leading global medical journal and web site, and NEJM Journal Watch alerts and publications covering 13 specialties. The Society is also a leader in continuing medical education for health care professionals throughout Massachusetts, conducting a variety of medical education programs for physicians and health care professionals. Founded in 1781, MMS is the oldest continuously operating medical society in the country.
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