Attorney General George Jepsen joined 39 attorneys general on Tuesday from in urging the U.S. FDA to issue regulations by Oct. 31, 2013, to regulate e-cigarettes.
Jepsen and other attorneys general want action taken to regulate advertising, ingredients and sale to minors of electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes.
In a bipartisan letter, the attorneys general asked the FDA to regulate e-cigarettes as “tobacco products” under the Tobacco Control Act and to prohibit their sale to minors. E-cigarettes — rapidly growing in popularity 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.
At present, no federal age restrictions prevent children from obtaining e-cigarettes, and e-cigarettes are available in fruit and candy flavors — including bubble gum, gummy bear and chocolate — that appeal to youth and have been banned from cigarettes.
A survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that the percentages of youth who have tried or currently use e-cigarettes both roughly doubled from 2011 to 2012. The survey estimates that nearly 1.8 million middle and high school students tried e-cigarettes in 2012.
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, the nicotine found in e-cigarettes has immediate biochemical effects on the brain and body at any dosage and is toxic at high doses.
“Nicotine in any form is highly addictive,” said Attorney General Jepsen in a release. “While some marketing claims imply that e-cigarettes are a safe alternative to smoking, the fact is that the health effects of e-cigarettes have not been adequately studied.”
State attorneys general have fought for years to protect people from the dangers of tobacco products. In 1998, the attorneys general of 52 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 to restrict cigarette advertising to prevent youth smoking.