We Need to Protect Our Children’s Health

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

We must protect our children. More and more of them are using electronic cigarettes, putting their health at risk, and creating a lifelong addiction. H 588 can help stop this trend by educating Idaho’s youth so they are better prepared to make an informed decision about their well-being. But first, H 588 must get a committee hearing.

The numbers from the National Youth Tobacco Survey are staggering. E-cigarette use has more than doubled among high schoolers in just the past couple years. More than one-in-four of all high schoolers report using e-cigarettes. For middle schoolers, that’s kids as young as 11, one-in-ten report using e-cigarettes. These numbers are spiking, and they will continue to go up unless we do something.

We can do something in Idaho, and that “something,” is H 588. This legislation would establish a program in each public health district in the State of Idaho that would educate our youth on the dangers of minors using electronic smoking devices. They will be funded by including electronic cigarettes in the definition of tobacco products. Cartridges or containers used in electronic smoking devices would be taxed at the same rate as other tobacco products, such as cigars, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, snuff, packets. This puts e-cigarettes on a level playing field with other tobacco products. The result is an informed group of teenagers who are prepared to make educated decisions.

Some of you might have heard that e-cigarettes can be a help to people if they want to quit smoking. While e-cig makers have certainly marketed these products that way, they have not received approval from the FDA as a smoking cessation device. Gums, lozenges or patches are proven to be effective in helping people quit smoking, and they’re FDA-approved. The few studies there are show no advantages to using e-cigs to quit smoking. While some people have used them to quit, those folks are still addicted to and using the nicotine in these devices, but they believe they’re no longer risking their health, and that’s the real danger. Teen smoking is down, but the rapid rise of e-cigarettes by youth is creating a new generation of nicotine addiction.

I encourage you to contact your State Senators and Representatives and demand a hearing for H 588. I will always fight to ensure Idahoans’ freedom. You have the right to choose whether to smoke, chew, or use e-cigarettes. Your kids, once they’re of-age, should have that same right. But, it’s essential that they have all the facts when they make that life-changing decision. This bill ensures that they will.