FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 11, 2015
(512) 463-0120 office
AUSTIN, TX — Today, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee heard SB 97, a bill authored by Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa that relates to the sale, distribution, possession, and use of electronic cigarettes. The bill prohibits the sale of these increasingly popular products to anyone under 18 years of age.
Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes or vape pens, are battery-powered vaporizers that turn nicotine, flavor, and other chemicals into an aerosol that is then inhaled by the user. As the popularity of these products continues to grow, so do concerns regarding their potentially harmful effects.
Senator Hinojosa issued the following statement:
"Regulation at the state level is necessary. Many cities in Texas as well as 41 other states have already banned the sale of e-cigarettes to minors because of the potentially harmful health consequences and the addictive nature of the nicotine in e-cigarettes. SB 97 will prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and regulate their possession, distribution, and use.
"Teens now use e-cigarettes more than any other tobacco product, including conventional tobacco cigarettes. It is imperative that we take the steps to protect our teens from these federally unregulated, potentially addicting products."
Though some research suggests that e-cigarettes are less harmful than conventional cigarettes, they are not risk free because they contain nicotine, a highly addictive drug. The nicotine in e-cigarettes poses a substantial risk to youth in particular: adolescence is a critical point in the development of nicotine addiction, and nicotine in any form - smokeless, combustible, or electronic - can have adverse effects on adolescent brain development.
Electronic cigarettes are currently unregulated at the federal level and in the state of Texas. These products' lack of regulation, together with their influence on adolescents and the concern they present to the public health community, reinforce the need for legislation at the state level. Passage of SB 97 would allow Texas to join 41 other states that already prohibit the sale of electronic cigarettes or vaping/alternative tobacco products to minors.