AG Statement on FDA’s Proposed Regulations for E-Cigarettes
New Rules Support AG Coakley’s Push to Prohibit Sales to Minors
BOSTON – After the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) announced proposed regulations for electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) that would provide oversight of this highly-addictive product and prohibit its sale to minors, Attorney General Martha Coakley issued the following statement:
“The Food and Drug Administration is taking an important first step in extending its regulations to additional tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. These devices have been marketed for too long with little oversight, despite being highly addictive and delivering strong doses of nicotine. Common sense regulations will help minimize the potential harm caused by e-cigarettes, and keep these products out of the hands of minors. Over the next several months, we will work to ensure that the FDA adopts a robust and meaningful set of regulations that protect the public health and safety of all consumers.”
In September, AG Coakley co-sponsored a bipartisan letter with Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, and joined by 38 other attorneys general, urging the FDA to take all available measures to regulate e-cigarettes as “tobacco products” under the Tobacco Control Act, and place restrictions on its advertising and ingredients. E-cigarettes, the use of which 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.
State attorneys general have fought for years to protect people from the dangers of tobacco products. In 1998, Massachusetts and 51 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.
Unlike traditional tobacco products, there are currently no federal age restrictions that would prevent children from obtaining e-cigarettes. Noting the growing use of e-cigarettes and the growing prevalence of television advertising, the letter highlighted the need to protect youth from becoming addicted to nicotine through these new products.
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 may put 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.
Additionally, some e-cigarette marketing implies that e-cigarettes are a safe alternative to smoking, when in fact nicotine is highly addictive, the health effects of e-cigarettes have not been adequately studied, and the ingredients are not regulated and may still contain carcinogens. The lack of regulation may put the public at risk because users of e-cigarettes are inhaling unknown chemicals with unknown effects.
In October, AG Coakley testified before the Massachusetts legislature in favor of a proposed law that would impose age-restrictions on e-cigarettes, among other regulations on the product’s sale and use. The proposed law remains pending in the legislature.