WASHINGTON (June 24, 2014) – State and local governments should take steps to curb cigarette use and promote e-cigarettes as a real driver of tobacco harm reduction, said the R Street Institute in a paper released today.

Authored by Dr. Joel Nitzkin, R Street senior fellow and public health expert, “E-cigarette primer for state and local lawmakers” lays out the benefits associated with using e-cigarettes as a means to quitting traditional cigarettes, while promoting controls through regulation to keep all tobacco products out of the hands of minors. 

“Adding a tobacco harm reduction component to current tobacco-control programming is the only policy option likely to substantially reduce tobacco-attributable illness and death in the United States over the next 20 years,” said Nitzkin. “Sensible FDA regulation will be needed if e-cigarette makers and vendors are to present the level of risk posed by these products honestly. However, any regulation must be evidence-based, practical and reasonably streamlined in a way that will protect and advance public health.”

As draft FDA regulations begin to make their way through the process, Nitzkin outlines several steps that state and local governments can take in the meantime.

First, state and local governments should fully enforce age restrictions on the purchase of all tobacco products, and consider upping the age restriction from 18 to 21 to remove cigarettes from the high school environment. Second, to encourage users to switch, governments should heavily tax cigarettes, but only lightly tax lower-risk products. Third, governments should consider implementing non-pharmaceutical smoking cessation protocols that could prove to be more effective for long-term abstinence. Finally, governments should urge tobacco-control leaders to open dialogue with those in various tobacco-related industries who endorse e-cigarettes as the solution to curbing cigarette use and would welcome the opportunity to partner with those in the public health community in pursuit of shared public health objectives. 

Simultaneously, governments should urge the FDA to sensibly regulate e-cigarettes and other lower-risk tobacco products by prohibiting sales to minors, restricting marketing and assuring quality and consistency of manufacture. They should urge the FDA not to impose restrictions on flavoring or nicotine content that would make those products unpalatable to smokers who otherwise would switch. 

The paper can be found here:


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