For Immediate Release - August 08, 2014

AG Coakley Urges FDA to Adopt Additional Regulations to Protect Youth From Dangers of E-Cigarettes

28 States Join Letter Co-Sponsored by AG Coakley in Response to FDA’s Proposed Rule

BOSTON – Attorney General Martha Coakley led a group of states today urging additional regulations that would better protect youth from the harms caused by tobacco products.  The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recently proposed regulations after ruling that electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are subject to its jurisdiction under the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

In a letter, co-sponsored by AG Coakley, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and joined by 25 other attorneys general, AG Coakley specifically urges the FDA to adopt additional measures to protect youth by prohibiting flavors in all new tobacco products and by restricting advertising and marketing for e-cigarettes in the same manner as for cigarettes.

“Imposing federal restrictions on e-cigarettes is an important first step to protect public health from the harmful impacts of tobacco, but more must be done to help keep these products out of the hands of minors,” AG Coakley said. “We urge the FDA to take additional steps to help protect youth from becoming addicted to nicotine through these new tobacco products.”

The FDA has sought comments to their proposed regulations announced in April. While supporting those regulations, the attorneys general specifically point out in their letter that the FDA can and should take additional action to:

  • Prohibit characterizing flavors other than tobacco and menthol in e-cigarettes and other tobacco products;
  • Restrict the advertising, marketing, and promotion of e-cigarettes in the same respects it has restricted the advertising, marketing and promotion of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, as well as strengthening and updating those restrictions;
  • Strengthen the health warnings for the deemed tobacco products;
  • Restrict the advertising, promotion, and sale of all tobacco products over the Internet;
  • Define e-cigarette components and parts and apply the proposed restrictions on age verification, vending machine sales, and health warnings, regardless of whether such components and parts contain nicotine;
  • Include “premium” cigars in the proposed rule; and
  • Regulate pipe tobacco to prevent avoidance of regulations applicable to tobacco actually used as roll-your-own tobacco.

State attorneys general have long worked to protect citizens, particularly youth, 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.

In September 2013, 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.

In October 2013, 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.

In April 2014, the FDA announced proposed regulations for e-cigarettes that would provide oversight of this highly-addictive product and prohibit its sale to minors.

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 either tried e-cigarettes or used them on a regular basis. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, nicotine exposure during adolescence adversely effects cognitive function and development.

Additionally, e-cigarettes are increasingly being marketed as 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 other states joining the letter to the FDA, co-sponsored by Massachusetts, Illinois, Indiana, and New York, include Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, and Washington.