The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) wants the minimum age to purchase tobacco products and e-cigarettes raised to 21 across the United States. In new policy recommendations, the AAP released a statement urging more than two- dozen tough regulations to help reduce youth smoking and addiction to nicotine.
Nicotine is considered physically and psychologically addictive, with some experts claiming that it is as additive and hard to kick as heroin and other hard narcotics.
The AAP also calls for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to finally regulate e-cigarettes the same way it regulates other tobacco products. The FDA has issued a proposed rule that would extend the agency’s tobacco authority to cover additional products that meet the legal definition of a tobacco product, such as e-cigarettes.
"Most adolescents don't use just one nicotine product but will commonly use or experiment with several," said Dr. Harold Farber, lead author of two of the statements and a pediatric pulmonologist at Texas Children's Hospital. "Research to date shows that adolescents who experiment with e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes are much more likely to go on to become regular cigarette smokers and less likely to stop cigarette smoking."
Currently, only Hawaii and about 90 cities and communities in several other states have a law requiring a minimum age of 21 to purchase tobacco products, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
"As the brain matures, the ability to make decisions with important health consequences should likewise improve," said Dr. Danelle Fisher, vice chair of pediatrics at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif. "Thus, slightly older young adults may choose to forgo tobacco products," suggested Fisher, who was not involved with the new policy recommendations.
Not only would the AAP like to see e-cigarettes regulated, but also their candy-like flavors and menthol eliminated.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more adolescents used e-cigarettes than any other tobacco product in 2014.
In addition to calling for FDA control of e-cigarettes, the AAP recommended that smoke-free laws expand to include e-cigarettes. The group recommends that use of any tobacco or nicotine products, including e-cigarettes, be banned in all workplaces, schools, dormitories, bars, restaurants, health care facilities, sidewalks, parks, recreational and sports facilities, entertainment venues and multi-unit housing.
"The jury on e-cigarettes remains out, but it is clear that carcinogens and potentially harmful substances are nonetheless present in this alternate nicotine delivery system," said Dr. Jack Jacoub, director of thoracic oncology at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center's MemorialCare Cancer Institute in Fountain Valley, Calif.
Other policy recommendations include a ban on Internet sales of e-cigarettes, a tax on e-cigarettes at the same rate as traditional cigarettes and a requirement for adult ratings on any entertainment depicting e-cigarette use.
The AAP also recommended banning advertising of tobacco products and e-cigarettes in all media, including television, radio, print, billboards, signs and online, and in stores where children and teens might see them..
Another concern is the number of young children who have suffered nicotine poisoning from accidently ingesting liquid nicotine. Poison control centers receive more than 200 calls per month for accidental ingestion of nicotine for e-cigarettes, the AAP noted, and one toddler died last year from swallowing some. The APP recommends child-resistant packaging for these products.
"Toddlers and young children love to explore new things and to put things in their mouths, so it is imperative that packaging and childproofing be done to enhance the safety of their environments," Fisher said. "This is analogous to having childproof caps on pill bottles."
The new policies were presented Monday at the group's national conference and published online simultaneously in the journal Pediatrics.
Source: Tara Haelle, http://consumer.healthday.com/cancer-information-5/misc-tobacco-health-news-666/raise-smoking-age-to-21-u-s-pediatricians-group-urges-704535.html