In an open letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret
Hamburg, the Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC) noted that the FDA
has nothing in its proposed regulations that would govern the
advertising of e-cigarettes, which it said often targets the youth
The FDA did propose banning sales of e-cigarettes to those under the
age of 18.
The e-cigarette industry, estimated at $2 billion and growing, did
not object loudly to last week's proposed FDA rules, which many
health officials found too loose.
According to the BCHC, there were "gaps" in the rules that need to
"We urge you follow our lead and use your full authority to apply
all current tobacco regulations to e-cigarettes," public health
officials representing 11 of the biggest U.S. cities said in their
letter. "The FDA must move quickly to address the growing concern
about youth use beyond setting a minimum age requirement to purchase
Battery-powered e-cigarettes contain a cartridge that is filled with
a nicotine-laced liquid, which is vaporized and then inhaled.
Advocates say they are safer than standard cigarettes because they
do not produce lung-destroying tar.
But the BCHC said e-cigarettes also deliver dangerous chemicals and
carcinogens, adding that the level of nicotine indicated on
e-cigarette labels is not always correct.
The federal government has restricted traditional cigarette
advertising, including banning television ads, but there are no such
limitations in the FDA's proposed e-cigarette rules.
The BCHC said big tobacco companies, such as Reynolds American Inc,
Lorillard Inc and Altria Group Inc, are boosting their advertising
budgets, which could be risky for teenagers.
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"E-cigarette advertisements regularly employ youth-oriented
marketing strategies that the tobacco industry used decades ago such
as celebrity endorsements and messages that associate smoking
e-cigarettes with themes like freedom, rebelliousness and glamour,"
the coalition said.
Richard J. Smith, a spokesman for Reynolds American, which makes the
VUSE e-cigarette, said his company does not target the youth market
and limits its television advertising to programs viewed primarily
Some local governments have placed restrictions on e-cigarettes, but
the BCHC said uniform nationwide regulations are needed.
The FDA's proposed rules, which require a health warning on
e-cigarettes and ban vending machine sales and free samples, are
subject to a public-comment period of 75 days.
The letter to Hamburg was signed by public health officials from New
York, Los Angeles County, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Houston,
Phoenix, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and San Jose,
(Reporting by Bill Trott; editing by G. Crosse and Leslie Adler)
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