Attorney General Zoeller Urges FDA to Regulate Marketing of E-cigarette Products to Protect Minors
(Targeted News Service Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 8 -- The Indiana Attorney General issued the following news release:
Attorney General Greg Zoeller today urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to adopt new measures to protect minors from a harmful, highly-addictive product: electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes).
As Indiana's top consumer protection official and the lawyer for state government, Attorney General Zoeller serves as the National Association of Attorneys General Tobacco Committee co-chair. In June of this year, Zoeller was appointed to the Board of Directors of the American Legacy Foundation, a national public health organization dedicated to ending tobacco use in the United States.
In a letter co-sponsored by the attorneys general of Indiana, Illinois, Massachusetts and New York, and joined by 25 other state attorneys general, Zoeller filed official comments with the FDA on its proposed rule deeming all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to be subject to its jurisdiction under the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) while urging the FDA to take it a step further.
"Sadly there is a long history of companies manufacturing and selling tobacco using shrewd marketing techniques designed to push their disease-causing products onto children by getting kids hooked on addictive nicotine. Now technology has devised a new nicotine-delivery device creating health risks not fully researched. State attorneys general were at the forefront of pushing back at the deceptive marketing of harmful tobacco products, and we now ask the FDA to step up and restrict these new devices as it does other tobacco products," Zoeller said.
The federal Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act passed in 2009 grants the FDA jurisdiction to regulate tobacco products. At the time, the rule applied immediately to cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco, but did not include other tobacco products such as cigars. Since then, tobacco-derived e-cigarettes have joined the market and raised new public health concerns, especially for their impact on minors.
In September 2013, 40 attorneys general wrote the FDA urging it to issue regulations addressing the advertising, ingredients, and sale to minors of e-cigarettes. In November 2013, 27 attorneys general wrote to the FDA in support of a ban on menthol-flavored cigarettes. In April of this year, the FDA requested public comments on its proposed rule that would deem e-cigarettes and all other tobacco products subject to the FD&C Act. In addition, the FDA proposed to apply minimum age and identification restrictions, required health warnings, and prohibit vending machine sales of e-cigarettes.
While supporting the proposal generally as appropriate for the protection of public health, the letter from state AGs also urges the FDA to go beyond its current proposal to adopt measures to protect youth by prohibiting characterizing flavors in all "newly deemed" tobacco products and by restricting advertising and marketing for e-cigarettes in the same manner as for cigarettes. Zoeller noted e-cigarettes often use flavorings, such as fruit or candy flavors, to make them more appealing to youth.
The letter also advocates of the FDA adopt stronger health warnings than those in the proposed rule, and argues that no exception be made for "premium" cigars. Finally, the letter requests the FDA ban all internet and direct mail sales of tobacco products.
"Candidly, FDA can and should do more to warn young people and their parents that they could be subjecting themselves to health risks, and the argument that e-cigarettes are not as bad as cigarettes does not mean that e-cigarettes are a safe product," Zoeller said.
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