To the Editor: The scientific evidence for the bill raising the legal smoking age to 21 in California is strong and is based on an Institute of Medicine report. There is no similar body of evidence that would support the other bill before the governor, which would classify electronic cigarettes as tobacco products.
Many of the recent declines in smoking are attributed to the use of electronic cigarettes. The majority of individuals who take up e-cigarettes do so in order to reduce their risk of tobacco-related disease. E-cigarette use has been shown to promote additional attempts by smokers to quit, and half the users experience significant reductions in the amount smoked. In England, the National Health Service has recently initiated programs to dispense e-cigarettes for these purposes.
Increased restrictions on electronic cigarettes, other than limiting sales to young people, are contrary to public health and the public interest.
The writer is an assistant professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, a senior fellow at R Street Institute,a research organization, and medical director of Health Republic Insurance.