Emphasizing the need for immediate regulatory oversight of electronic cigarettes (“e-cigarettes”), Attorney General Jim Hood recently urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to place restrictions on the product.
Hood specifically is looking to regulate the advertising and ingredients of the popular, highly-addictive product, and prohibit its sale to minors.
In a bipartisan letter co-sponsored by 40 other Attorneys General, Hood urges 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 to prevent children from obtaining e-cigarettes,” said Hood.
Noting the growing use of e-cigarettes, and the growing prevalence of advertising, the Attorneys General letter highlights the need to protect youth from becoming addicted to nicotine through these new products.
A survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that from 2011 to 2012, the percentages of youth who have tried or currently use e-cigarettes both roughly doubled. The survey estimates that nearly 1.8 million middle and high school students have tried e-cigarettes in 2012.
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, nicotine is highly addictive and has immediate bio-chemical effects on the brain and body at any dosage, and is toxic in high doses. The lack of regulation of e-cigarettes puts youth at risk of developing a lifelong addiction to a potentially dangerous product that could also act as a gateway to using other tobacco products.
E-cigarette manufacturers are using marketing tactics similar to those big tobacco used in the last 50 to 100 years to attract new smokers. Celebrity endorsements, television advertising, cartoons, fruit flavors, attractive packaging and cheap prices all serve to encourage youth consumption of these dangerous products.