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    Should 16 be the age for e-cigarette purchases?

     

    The debate over the use and regulation of electronic cigarettes is a hot debate in public health policy, and Friedman’s recommendation is not congruent with that of other public health agencies.

    While e-cigarettes still deliver nicotine, they do so without the same addictive qualities and possible reduce overall smoking rates. However, there is concern that the use and acceptance of e-cigarettes results in increased smoking by introducing users who would not have used traditional cigarettes, and reducing the stigma around smoking.

    There is also some indication that e-cigarette use may be used as a gateway to cigarette smoking, but the study suggests that people who are willing to experiment with e-cigarettes may also be more likely to enjoy experimentation in general and are more likely to try both products regardless of its effect.

    Friedman suggests that 16 years is an appropriate age to lower the e-cigarette ban to because that’s the age when conventional smoking spikes. The most important finding of this research, she writes, is the causal evidence that e-cigarette access reduces teens smoking.

    More: Are teenagers who use e-cigarettes at increased risk of substance use?

    “Policy discussions to date have not considered that banning e-cigarette sales to minors might increase teenaged smoking. Assuming that e-cigarettes are indeed less risky to one’s health than traditional cigarettes, as suggested by existing evidence on the subject, this result calls such bans into question. Yet it is not a straightforward guide to regulation: beyond the fact that the market had not reached equilibrium by 2013, an US Food and Drug Administration decision not to ban e-cigarette sales to minors after having announced this intention could be seen as sanctioning teen vaping, introducing distinct costs not addressed here,” Friedman says. “A middle ground that recognizes the potential for yet unknown long run costs of e-cigarette use might involve banning sales to those aged younger than 16 years instead of 18 years, as initiation of regular smoking first spikes at the former age.”

    NEXT: What do AAP and the CDC recommend?

    Rachael Zimlich, RN
    Rachael Zimlich is a freelance writer in Cleveland, Ohio. She writes regularly for Contemporary Pediatrics, Managed Healthcare ...

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