Electronic cigarettes are no longer just for dorky adults: New CDC data says 10 percent of students have experimented with all the devices.
Thirty seven state attorneys general and several leading U.S. senators are calling on the Government’s Food and Drug Administration to work with existing law to control electronic cigarettes.
Federal and state
officials are pushing for a rapid end to the current laissez-faire regulatory environment for electronic cigarettes, which is characterized by hundreds of companies vying for customers with flavor options and diverse device.
The Federal Food and Drug Administration is preparing draft rules, with a target launch date sometime in October, for those battery-powered vapor machines advertised as a healthy choice to carcinogen-packed traditional cigarettes.
If the FDA decides to use the Tobacco Control Act of 2009 to e-cigarettes, advertisements would be closely controlled and popular flavors may be banned. That legislation, enacted with the help of cigarette company Phillip Morris, prohibited restricted advertising and flavored cigarettes and wellness claims.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, told reporters during a Wednesday conference call he believes the FDA already has power under the Tobacco Control Act to regulate e-cigarettes. He said he would be meeting with Food And Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg and two unnamed Senate colleagues later in the afternoon “to press [the FDA] to regulate tobacco products to the entire extent of their power.”
[RELATED: Blumenthal Advocates Banning Flavors, Online Sales]
Brown alleged that e-cigarette makers are directly related to the conventional cigarette industry and stated flavored liquid has been used to recruit a new “crop of consumers.”
“Cigarette smoking, we all know, kills close to a half-million people in the Usa every year,” Brown said. “The tobacco industry, they understand that between 400,000 and 500,000 clients die each year and that means… they have to find 400,000 to 500,000 new smokers every single year [and] they set their sights on the most recent nicotine market.”
He added: “The longer they could be promoted to kids, the more our hard-fought gains to stop teenagers from being addicted to tobacco are dropped. If more young people get hooked on e-cigarettes, the possibilities of their smoking – when they are older – regular cigarettes increase… If making cigarettes is addicting kids and killing them, this is the most important factor here.”
Brown joins other Democratic senators in urging regulation of e-cigarettes. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., told U.S. Information last week he would like the FDA to ban flavor options and the on-line sale of e-cigarettes. It’s “wholly disingenuous,” Blumenthal maintained, for e-cigarette advocates to say fruity flavors are mostly used by adults.
Blumenthal and brown both said they would support legislation in the event the FDA will not act first.
Supports of e-cigarettes say they support age constraints, but they’re urging officers to hit the brakes before enacting regulations.
“Like Sen. Blumenthal, Sen. Brown is acting without sufficient information,” said Gregory Conley, legislative director of the Customer Advocates for Smokefree Alternatives Association. “Sen. Brown is encouraging a ban on flavored e-cigarettes without having asked for signs showing that flavored e-cigarettes are actually being targeted or marketed to teens, or actually being used by teenagers. He surely does not appear to get some respect for electronic cigarettes as methods to get smokers to stop inhaling burning smoke.”
Conley added: “Mr. Brown certainly knows from the negotiations back [in 2009] that removing flavored cigarettes from the market made no measurable effect on public health because no teenagers were actually using them.”