AGs Urge FDA to Regulate E-Cigarettes

40 attorneys general sign letter co-sponsored by Coakley, DeWine

Martha Coakley

Martha Coakley

BOSTON -- Emphasizing the need for immediate regulatory oversight of electronic cigarettes, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) is urging the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to place restrictions on the advertising and ingredients of the "popular, highly addictive" product, and prohibit its sale to minors. 

In a bipartisan letter co-sponsored by Coakley and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine (R), and joined by 38 other attorneys general, Coakley urges the FDA to take all available measures to regulate e-cigarettes as "tobacco products" under the Tobacco Control Act.

"People, especially kids, are being led to believe that e-cigarettes are a safe alternative, but they are highly addictive and can deliver strong doses of nicotine," Coakley said. "We urge the FDA to act quickly to ensure that these products are regulated to protect the public, and are no longer advertised or sold to youth."

Unlike traditional tobacco products, there are no federal age restrictions that would prevent children from obtaining e-cigarettes. Noting the growing use of e-cigarettes and the growing prevalence of TV advertising, the letter highlights the need to protect youth from becoming addicted to nicotine through these new products, it said.

According to the AGs, e-cigarette manufacturers are using marketing tactics similar to those tobacco companies used in the last 50 to 100 years to attract new smokers. Celebrity endorsements, TV advertising, cartoons, fruit flavors, attractive packaging and cheap prices all serve to encourage youth consumption of these dangerous products, they said.

And some e-cigarette marketing suggests that these products do not contain the same level of toxins and carcinogens found in traditional cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products, said the AGs. These claims imply that e-cigarettes are 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, they said. The lack of regulation may put the public at risk because users of e-cigarettes are inhaling unknown chemicals with unknown effects, they said.

Along with Massachusetts and Ohio, the other states and territories include Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Washington and Wyoming.