Senators Urge FDA to Restrict Sale, Distribution, Marketing of Electronic Cigarettes

Seek "deeming regulations" asserting authority over cigars, pipe tobacco, dissolvables, e-cigs

Dick Durbin

WASHINGTON -- Calling electronic cigarettes a possible pathway to traditional cigarettes and other tobacco products, five U.S. senators are calling on the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to issue "deeming regulations" asserting regulatory authority over tobacco products, such as cigars, pipe tobacco, e-cigarettes and dissolvable tobacco products--and to restrict the sale, distribution and marketing of e-cigarettes and other nicotine products to children and young adults.

The products, which the senators call "nicotine delivery devices," are currently not required to be evaluated or approved by the FDA.

U.S. senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) signed the letter to FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg.

"Unlike traditional tobacco products, e-cigarettes can be legally sold to children and are not subject to age verification laws," the senators wrote. "E-cigarettes marketed to appeal to kids in candy and fruit flavors, like bubblegum and strawberry, are readily available to youth in shopping malls and online. These products risk addicting children to nicotine, which could be a pathway to cigarettes and other tobacco products."

The letter also said, "As a result of the Family Smoking Prevention & Tobacco Control Act of 2009, the FDA has made commendable efforts to enhance the regulation of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products; however, we have seen the emergence of novel nicotine products for which FDA has yet to assert regulatory authority, such as electronic cigarettes, which raise concerns regarding safety and marketing to children."