Thune E-Cigarette Youth Marketing Hearing Statement
(Targeted News Service Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) WASHINGTON, June 18 -- The ranking Republican member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee issued the following news release:
U.S. Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, delivered the following prepared remarks at today's "Aggressive E-Cigarette Marketing and Potential Consequences for Youth" full committee hearing:
Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank today's witnesses for appearing before the Committee.
According to the World Health Organization, there are more than one billion smokers in the world. Sadly, in one year alone, more than 5 million of those people will die prematurely due to direct tobacco use.
In 1976, Professor Michael Russell, a leading expert on cigarette addiction, wrote: "People smoke for nicotine but they die from the tar." The introduction of e-cigarettes, which usually contain nicotine but none of the tar involved in ordinary cigarettes, presents new challenges for policymakers, regulators, and the public health community. It is also a new opportunity for increased public health to the extent that these new products may help reduce the number of individuals who smoke combustible tobacco cigarettes.
Dr. David Abrams at the American Legacy Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing tobacco use that is funded by payments from the Master Settlement Agreement between state attorneys general and the tobacco industry in 1998, has called the e-cigarette a potentially "disruptive technology, able to render the combustion of tobacco obsolete." Similarly, Mitch Zeller, Director of the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Tobacco Products, recently said, "we have to have an open mind on the potential for these emerging technologies to benefit public health."
In addition, a recent study by researchers at the University College London on the efforts of people to stop smoking found that e-cigarettes are 60 percent more effective than nicotine replacement therapies, such as nicotine patches or gum.
Many e-cigarette companies argue that their product is still an emerging technology, and warn that restrictions on e-cigarettes that do not follow the science may inhibit future innovation to create safer products for existing smokers.
At the same time, we should be mindful that, even if e-cigarettes are shown to be less harmful than combustible tobacco cigarettes, nicotine is addictive and the long-term usage and health effects of these products are currently unknown. Opponents of the product also believe that e-cigarettes are a gateway to combustible tobacco cigarettes, especially among minors.
Recent studies have shown that, with an increase in e-cigarette marketing, overall awareness of e-cigarettes is growing and some advertisements, whether they are intended to or not, are reaching youth audiences. In addition, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids - represented here today by Mr. Myers - has identified e-cigarette advertisements that employ similar campaigns and themes as advertisements from combustible cigarette companies decades ago. While this is not necessarily the case for all e-cigarette companies, it raises understandable concern about the targeting of this advertising.
There has also been a recent rise in the number of calls to poison centers involving children related to e-cigarettes and the accompanying solution, which often contains nicotine and other ingredients. The American Academy of Pediatrics - represented here today by Dr. Tanski - has raised concerns about the lack of child resistant packaging on these products.
Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration proposed a deeming rule to regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products. A number of questions are being asking about just how these products should be regulated, especially how they can and cannot be marketed. Given that these are relatively new products, and given the extent to which they may provide benefits to public health, I believe sound science should drive any discussion of federal regulation
I also think we would all agree that children should not be able to purchase these products. My home state of South Dakota has banned the sale or use of e-cigarettes by those younger than 18 years of age. Several other states have done the same.
While I am opposed to smoking in general, I look forward to learning more about the apparent potential of e-cigarettes to reduce harm to current smokers. As with most issues that we face in Congress, I believe that more scientific investigation and thoughtful discussion is needed, and Mr. Ballin is here to discuss some of his work with the University of Virginia to start a dialogue between various stakeholders on these issues.
I would like to end with a quote from Dr. Thomas Glynn, a director at the American Cancer Society, who sums up the current debate surrounding e-cigarettes as follows, and I quote, "...as with so many highly celebrated, or reviled, products, their true nature likely lies somewhere in between, with both pros and cons to recommend or discourage their use." Hopefully we can shed some light on those pros and cons today.
Thank you again to our witnesses for appearing today and I look forward to your testimony.
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