In a new report released Monday, Durbin's staff went so far as to condemn battery-operated e-cigs as the "gateway to tobacco addiction," and criticized e-cig companies for targeting minors with their advertising.
“(This report) makes it clear the e-cigarette companies… have made a determined effort… to lure children into this nicotine addiction,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, the other leading sponsor of the report. “It’s time for the FDA to step up.”
In February , Senator Durbin pushed drug stores to stop tobacco sales altogether, and congratulated CVS stores for being the first to take tobacco off their shelves. Thus far, Walgreens has not acquiesced.
However, Senator Durbin says prescription pot shouldn't be a federal crime. He said as far back as 2007 people with "pain issues" should be able to find relief from THC and other chemical in cannabis smokes.
"Why would we exclude the chemical in marijuana simply because some people abuse it for recreational purposes, or whatever?" he asked. "That makes no sense at all."
Questions still abound about studies that show a likely link between lung cancer and pot smoking because many of the carcinogens and co-carcinogens present in tobacco smoke are also present in smoke from marijuana. Pot smoking does cause inflammation and cell damage, and it has been associated with pre-cancerous changes in lung tissue. Marijuana has been shown to cause immune system dysfunction, possibly predisposing individuals to cancer attacks.
And, while Durbin's staff points to e-cigarettes as a gateway to tobacco addiction, experts continue to argue that marijuana is often a gateway leading to hard drug addiction.
Illinois legalized medical marijuana last year, and is also considering selling and advertising restrictions on e-cigarettes while also considering banning tobacco smoking on any state university property.