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The Times disgracefully goes to bat for Big Tobacco

To the editor: I am the author of a measure that protects the public against exposure to electronic cigarettes and requires these devices, and their associated liquids, to be sold in child-resistant packaging. ("California tramples on smokers' rights," editorial, March 11)

One week ago your editorial board criticized the lack of regulation of e-cigarettes. Yet you now insist that regulating them in California “tramples” on the rights of smokers?

Adults can continue to “vape,” just not in public places like hospitals and day-care centers where tobacco is already banned. Vape shops can also continue to sell their products — just not to youths and only if the liquids they sell can't be easily accessed by infants and toddlers.

E-cigarettes are nothing more than a new delivery system for neurotoxic, addictive nicotine, and they should be treated like all other tobacco products. Numerous studies have shown an alarming rate of e-cigarette use among middle and high school students who are enticed by flavors like bubble gum and other kinds of candy. Your own paper has reported about e-cigarette explosions, and there are children across the country who have been poisoned by e-cigarette liquids.

If that's not enough evidence to merit action, the California's Department of Public Health has confirmed that e-cigarette emissions contain harmful, cancer-causing chemicals.

Failing to regulate e-cigarettes in California would be irresponsible and play into the hands of Big Tobacco. We should have learned that lesson by now.

State Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco)

..

To the editor: The Times is wrong to oppose the tobacco control measures awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown's signature.

Thanks to unregulated e-cigarette marketing, use among California students has skyrocketed from nonexistent in 2007 to 24.4% in 2014. By contrast, only 11% have ever used combustible tobacco. Nicotine from either source is addictive.

Furthermore, psychosocial data are showing that youths are using e-cigarettes as just one more option among a range of psychoactive substances that troubled adolescents use to palliate stressors such as abuse, poverty, exposure to violence, academic failure and teen pregnancy.

Why gamble with our children's health? The Times should support raising the minimum smoking age to 21 and treating e-cigarettes like other tobacco-derived products.

William McCarthy, Malibu

The writer is an adjunct professor at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.

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