New Jersey has moved to restrict the sale and use of electronic cigarettes, but to date, there is no comprehensive federal regulation of them. A top lawmaker said he wants the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to not only regulate e-cigarettes, but also to study their health impacts.

(Credit: Goodluz, ThinkStock)

An industry official said the health research should be done first so that the FDA would know what regulations might be needed.

“The FDA has not evaluated any electronic smoking devices for safety or effectiveness,” said Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-Voorhees). “We believe that this is a product right now that is in the marketplace and we’ve seen its impact in the doubling the amount of users in middle and high school years.”

Data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that the use of electronic smoking devices has increased nationwide and, during 2011-2012, doubled among middle and high school students.

Some claim e-cigarettes can help some beat a nicotine addiction, but Greenwald said there’s no definitive proof of that and that is why he is urging the FDA to research the health effects of e-cigarettes. He co-sponsored legislation (ACR-93) to make it official. The measure passed the full Assembly on Feb. 27, 2014. The full State Senate was scheduled to vote on it Thursday.

A CDC study published on Tuesday estimates that roughly 2.4 million middle and high school students were current (past 30-day) users of electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, in 2014.

The CDC report also found that almost 7-in-10 (69 percent) of middle and high school students were exposed to e-cigarette advertisements in retail stores, on the Internet, in magazines/newspapers, or on TV/movies.

A representative with the NJ Vapor Retailers Coalition said his group was not opposed to health impact studies, but he argued the research should be done before any regulations are adopted.

“The NJ Vapor Retailers Coalition supports the notion that proper studies and evaluation needs to be conducted by government before regulation is brought down on small businesses and small business owners,” said Rich Levesque. “The Coalition opposes any regulation without proper studies by the FDA.”

Government has a right to regulate something when there are so many unknowns, Greenwald responded.

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