In a letter, attorneys general from states including New
York, Illinois, Indiana and Massachusetts asked the FDA to
prohibit flavors other than tobacco and menthol, and to restrict
advertising and marketing for e-cigarettes as strictly as it
does for cigarettes, according to a press release from New York
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
In April, the FDA proposed rules that would ban the sale of
e-cigarettes to anyone under 18, but would not restrict flavored
products, online sales or advertising, which public health
advocates say attract children. It marked the agency's first
step toward regulating the burgeoning $2 billion industry.
"While we applaud the FDA's proposal to start regulating these
tobacco products, it falls far short of what is needed to
protect our youth," Schneiderman said.
Electronic cigarettes contain no tobacco but do contain
nicotine, giving them the addictive qualities of regular
cigarettes, Schneiderman's announcement said.
The FDA is spending $270 million over five years on more than 45
research projects intended to inform its regulations of the
emerging e-cigarette industry.
The push by the attorneys general comes as the e-cigarette
industry, backed by tobacco companies, expands its marketing
across the country. More than 14 million U.S. adults and almost
2 million teenagers and children aged 10-12, dubbed
"tweenagers," have used e-cigarettes.
In an email, an FDA spokeswoman declined to comment on the
request from the attorneys general, but said bringing
e-cigarettes under the agency's authority was "an important
Electronic cigarette makers will have to register with the FDA,
adhere to minimum age and identification restrictions to prevent
sales to underage youth and include health warning labels, among
other obligations, the email said.
The FDA statement said it has not yet fully assessed
e-cigarettes' public health impact and that it was not clear
when it would issue a final rule on their marketing.
A period for submitting public comments on the proposed rules
was due to close late on Friday.
"If e-cigarettes have reduced toxicity, help smokers quit, or do
not introduce adolescents to tobacco use, they may have the
potential to reduce disease and death," the statement said.
"However, if e-cigarettes prompt young people to start using
them separately or with other conventional tobacco products, or
discourage or delay quitting tobacco use, then the public health
impact could be negative."
In a statement, the American Vaping Association - which
represents independent e-cigarette makers - said the FDA's
proposed regulation "would decimate the small businesses that
make up America's independent e-cigarette industry and remove a
powerful tool smokers are using to kick the habit."
(Editing by Michele Gershberg and Bernadette Baum)
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