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Attorney General Urges FDA to Regulate E-Cigarettes

Earlier this year, the Arkansas Legislature enacted Act 1451, which prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes to minors in the State. However, there is no such federal prohibition.
LITTLE ROCK, AR (News Release) -- Attorney General Dustin McDaniel and other attorneys general from across the country on Tuesday urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to implement restrictions on the advertising of electronic cigarettes and to prohibit the sale of the products to minors.

In a letter to the FDA, McDaniel and 39 of his counterparts asked the regulatory agency to immediately take all available measures to regulate electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, as “tobacco products” under the Federal Tobacco Control Act.

E-cigarettes are increasing in popularity among both adults and youth, with sales doubling every year since 2008. E-cigarettes are battery-operated products that heat liquid nicotine derived from tobacco plants into a vapor that is inhaled by the user. Unlike with traditional tobacco products, there are no federal age restrictions to prevent children from obtaining e-cigarettes.

“Attorneys general have worked together for years in the effort to protect our citizens from the harm caused by tobacco products,” McDaniel said. “E-cigarette use is widespread and the nicotine contained in e-cigarettes is addictive. It is time for the FDA to regulate these products and to place restrictions on advertising for the health and safety of our children and teenagers.”

Earlier this year, the Arkansas Legislature enacted Act 1451, which prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes to minors in the State. However, there is no such federal prohibition.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1.8 million middle and high school students tried e-cigarettes in 2012. The U.S. Surgeon General has stated that nicotine is highly addictive, has immediate biochemical effects on the brain and body at any dosage, and is toxic in high doses.

McDaniel and other attorneys general said the lack of federal regulation of e-cigarettes places youth at a greater risk of developing a lifelong addiction to a potentially dangerous product, and that e-cigarette use could lead to use of other tobacco products.

E-cigarette manufacturers engage in tactics that appeal to youth. Celebrity endorsements, cartoon characters, attractive packaging, fruit flavoring and cheap prices all serve to encourage youth consumption of the products.

Additionally, manufacturers claim that e-cigarettes do not contain the same level of toxins and carcinogens found in traditional cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products. These claims imply that e-cigarettes are a safe alternative to smoking, even though the health effects of e-cigarettes have not been adequately studied. The lack of regulation puts the public at risk because users of e-cigarettes are inhaling unknown chemicals with unknown effects.
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