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Attorneys General Call on FDA to Regulate E-Cigarettes

The Tennessee Attorney General, Bob Cooper, has joined 37 other attorneys general asking the FDA to place restrictions on advertising and sales to minors and ingredients contained in electronic cigarettes.

The e-cigarettes have become a growing increasingly popular as alternatives to traditional tobacco products.

The Attorneys General expressed their concerns in a bipartisan letter asking the FDA to take all available measures to regulate e-cigarettes as “tobacco products” under the Tobacco Control Act.

E-cigarettes, an increasingly widespread product that is growing rapidly among both youth and adults, are battery-operated products that heat liquid nicotine, derived from tobacco plants, into a vapor that is inhaled by the user.

Unlike traditional tobacco products, there are no federal age restrictions that would prevent children from obtaining e-cigarettes. Noting the growing use of e-cigarettes, and the growing prevalence of advertising, the letter highlights the need to protect youth from becoming addicted to nicotine through these new products.

“We are always concerned when a potentially dangerous product is being sold to the public without regulation,” Attorney General Cooper said. “This is especially alarming when companies attract youth to addictive products through advertising.”

The letter to the FDA notes that e-cigarettes manufacturers have used cartoon characters (banned by tobacco manufacturers for years) and fruit and candy flavors that are often attractive to young people. In addition, the e-cigarettes and refills of liquid nicotine solution can be obtained over the Internet without age verification.

State Attorneys General have fought for years to protect people from the dangers of tobacco products. In 1998, the attorneys general of 52 states and territories signed a landmark agreement with the four largest tobacco companies in the United States to recover billions of dollars in costs associated with smoking-related illnesses, and restrict cigarette advertising to prevent youth smoking.