Idaho's Attorney General Wants To Regulate E-Cigarettes

Oct 22, 2013

Credit nicoasnova / Flickr

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and 39 of his colleagues want tougher regulations for electronic cigarettes. The group hopes the federal government will act by Halloween.

The group sent a letter in September to the Food and Drug Administration. In it, the Attorneys General say e-cigarettes use nicotine, which is an addictive substance.

“It’s a tobacco-related product.  It is derived from tobacco,” says Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden. He believes the FDA has the authority to regulate e-cigarettes the same ways it regulates tobacco products. E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that vaporize liquid nicotine into an aerosol mist that can be inhaled.

The letter points out there are no federal age restrictions that would prevent children from obtaining e-cigarettes, nor are there any advertising restrictions. Wasden says he’s seeing advertising that hasn’t been seen in the U.S. in 30 years, when it comes to a tobacco product. 

He believes that advertising is directed toward kids. “You couple the cartoon advertising, monkeys and Angry Birds, and couple that with the flavorings of cherry and chocolate and gummy bear, bubble gum, who else would they be appealing to, but youth?” Wasden says.

Here's part of the letter the Attorney's General sent to the FDA:

  • “E-cigarettes contain fruit and candy flavors -- such as cherry, chocolate, gummy bear, and bubble gum -- that are appealing to youth. The FDA has banned such flavors from cigarettes and should take the same action regarding e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes and refills of the liquid nicotine solution used with e-cigarettes can easily be ordered online without age verification. By intentional use or mistaken ingestion from the non-child resistant containers, e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine refills can deliver dangerously high doses of liquid nicotine to youth.
  • In addition to flavors, e-cigarette manufacturers, such as and Magic Puff City E-cigarettes, use cartoon monkeys to sell e-cigarettes, even though for many years, the major manufacturers of traditional cigarettes have been banned from using cartoons to advertise. Finally, e-cigarette manufacturers, such as White Cloud Cigarettes, offer reusable e-cigarette “skins” -- known as Vapor Jackets -- that are intended to make the e-cigarette desirable or fashionable and are available in a variety of patterns that appeal to children, one of which uses images from the popular video game, Angry Birds.
  • Further, data from the 2011 and 2012 National Youth Tobacco Surveys (conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) show that e-cigarette use among students doubled in the last year.”

The FDA has a self-imposed deadline of October 31 to come up with regulations for e-cigarettes. Wasden and his colleagues are urging the FDA to meet that deadline and put the products on a shorter leash.

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