Rhode Island Governor Chafee Does… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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Rhode Island Governor Chafee Does the Right Thing by Vetoing Legislation to Exempt E-Cigarettes from Health Regulations

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
July 18, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids applauds Gov. Lincoln Chafee for protecting the health of Rhode Island residents by vetoing legislation to exempt electronic cigarettes from public health regulations. While masquerading as an effort to prevent e-cigarette sales to kids, the vetoed bill did not provide for effective enforcement and would have exempted e-cigarettes from other public health regulations intended to reduce tobacco use.

We strongly support prohibiting e-cigarette sales to minors. But the right way to do so is to extend current tobacco product definitions and regulations to include e-cigarettes, not to exempt e-cigarettes from these public health protections as the vetoed legislation would have done. Rhode Island should join other states, including Vermont and Minnesota, which have included e-cigarettes in their definition of tobacco products.

We agree strongly with Gov. Chafee’s veto message: “The sale of electronic cigarettes to children should be prohibited, but it is counter-productive to prohibit sales to children while simultaneously exempting electronic cigarettes from laws concerning regulation, enforcement, licensing or taxation. As a matter of public policy, electronic cigarette laws should mirror tobacco product laws, not circumvent them.”

Over the last several years, there has been a dramatic growth in the marketing and sale of e-cigarettes, including marketing that makes unsubstantiated health claims or once again makes smoking appear glamorous, especially to kids. To protect public health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration must act quickly to regulate the manufacture, marketing and sale of e-cigarettes, and the states must apply their laws governing cigarettes and other tobacco products to e-cigarettes.