November 02, 2015
Area(s) of Interest: Advocacy Public Health
An overwhelming majority of California voters believe e-cigarettes contribute to nicotine addiction in youth and should be regulated, according to the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California (USC). University researchers partnered with the Field Institute to implement five questions on a recent Field Poll regarding proposed regulatory efforts.
The Field Poll revealed that 74 percent of voters are in favor of regulating and licensing e-cigarettes similar to combustible cigarettes.
The Field Poll also showed that more than two-thirds of respondents—71 percent—consider e-cigarette products a factor in nicotine addiction among young people.
“Adolescents who experiment with e-cigarettes—even those with zero percent nicotine—are more likely to try cigarettes in the future,” said Jennifer Unger, Ph.D., Keck professor of preventive medicine. “This puts them on a path to lifetime dependence and the health consequences that come with it.”
Other findings showed:
- 74 percent of registered voters were in favor of using a tax on e-cigarettes and other vaping products to fund public education, research programs and law enforcement.
- 70 percent were in favor of a law prohibiting e-cigarette use where combustible cigarettes are already banned.
- 57 percent were in support of restrictions on e-cigarette flavors to curtail their appeal to youth.
According to the medical school, the Tobacco Related Disease Research Program at the University of California Office of the President is funding the study, which is ongoing.
The findings surfaced just a few weeks after the California Medical Association, through its partnership with the Save Lives California coalition, filed an initiative with the Attorney General’s Office that will tax electronic cigarettes and reduce youth smoking. The initiative will close a loophole in state law that has allowed e-cigarettes to remain untaxed in California. The initiative will also raise the tax on tobacco products by $2 per pack from the current rate of $0.87. The funds will be used to improve a variety of the state’s health care programs.
Taxing e-cigarettes like other tobacco products will help to reduce teen smoking and save lives. In 2013, 58 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds were exposed to e-cigarette ads on TV. Two years later, e-cigarette use in California had risen significantly, tripling among young adults aged 18 and 19 from 2014 to 2015, according to USC.
These often candy-flavored products put teens and others at risk of developing a deadly, lifelong addiction to nicotine. Research shows that youth are price sensitive—when tobacco costs go up, teen tobacco use goes down.
Neither America’s doctors nor the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved e-cigarettes as a cessation treatment. Recent studies have also found that users of e-cigarettes may actually be less likely to quit smoking, and teens who use e-cigarettes are more likely to start smoking. All FDA-approved smoking cessation products are exempt from the new California tobacco tax.
Regulating e-cigarettes is necessary in order to protect California’s children against the hazards of nicotine addiction. For more information on Save Lives California’s initiative, go to www.savelivescalifornia.com.