State Attorneys General Call On FDA To Regulate E-Cigarettes
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
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A group consisting of 40 state attorneys general has petitioned the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) calling upon the regulatory agency to start regulating electronic cigarettes in much the same way that they do tobacco products.
In a letter dated September 24, members of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) urged the FDA to meet the agency’s own, previously-established October 31 deadline to propose regulations regarding the advertising, ingredients and sale of the battery-powered devices to minors.
“State Attorneys General have long fought to protect their States’ citizens, particularly youth, from the dangers of tobacco products. For example, every State Attorney General sued the major cigarette companies for the harm their products caused,” Massachusetts’ Martha Coakley, Ohio’s Mike DeWine and their colleagues wrote.
“With the protection of our States’ citizens again in mind, the undersigned Attorneys General write to highlight the need for immediate regulatory oversight of e-cigarettes, an increasingly widespread, addictive product,” they added. “We ask the FDA to move quickly to ensure that all tobacco products are tested and regulated to ensure that companies do not continue to sell or advertise to our nation’s youth.”
According to CBS News, the letter claims that the vapor-producing electronic nicotine delivery systems were being intentionally marketed to children and underage teenagers through the use of ad campaigns featuring cartoon-like characters, and attractive varieties such as candy or fruit-flavored products.
“At the same time, e-cigarettes are becoming more affordable and more widely available as the use of regular cigarettes decline as they become more expensive and less socially acceptable,” the news website added. “Last year, about 18 percent of U.S. adults said they were tobacco smokers, down from 19 percent in 2011… Without regulation, e-cigarettes can be sold to minors in states that don’t restrict sales, critics point out.”
Forbes staff writer Daniel Fisher said that the e-cigarette market is valued at an estimated $1.7 billion and is growing, in part because the devices are not covered by the advertising restrictions and other penalties levied against the tobacco industry under the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement.
“That agreement, which pumps about $6 billion a year into state treasuries (and hundreds of millions of dollars more into the bank accounts of the politically connected private attorneys who helped negotiate it), covers conventional tobacco cigarettes, not e-cigs that deliver pure nicotine by heating it with a battery-powered device,” Fisher said.
“The AGs, in their letter, urge the FDA to fold e-cigs into the regulatory framework established under the Tobacco Control Act,” he added. “That would mean no more Super Bowl ads, and restrictions on sales to minors. It also might put a dent in the galloping increase in e-cig sales, which threatens to undermine the master settlement and the finances of the states that signed it.”
Currently, the FDA said that electronic cigarettes that are marketed for therapeutic purposes are regulated by the agency’s FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). The FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) only regulates cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco. However, the agency also noted that in September 2010, they issued a series of letters to manufacturers of the devices, warning those companies of various violations of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
Meanwhile, experts continue to debate the potential health benefits of the devices when compared to traditional cigarettes, as well as their usefulness as smoking cessation devices. Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), told the Washington Post that there was “no question that e-cigarettes deliver fewer [toxic substances] than conventional cigarettes, but the question of how much less is still not clear.” He said that large-scale, randomized trials were needed to prove their safety.
Similarly, Lauren Odum, a pharmacist at the University of Missouri at Kansas City (UMKC), said that she and her colleagues reviewed research into the topic and discovered “a lot of anecdotal evidence from patients” stating that e-cigarettes were “very helpful” to smokers looking to kick the habit. However, she added that the data was primarily from surveys and that the results were “skewed, because people who have a positive experience are more likely to report back.”