In a bipartisan letter, the attorneys general urged the FDA to take all available measures to regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products under the Tobacco Control Act. E-cigarettes are battery operated products that heat liquid nicotine, derived from tobacco plants, into a vapor that is inhaled by the user.
“Some smokers see e-cigarettes as a way to wean themselves
off of other tobacco products, but the health effects of these popular
alternatives have not been adequately studied and the ingredients are
not regulated,” Zoeller said. “Nicotine is highly addictive and, if
e-cigarettes are left unregulated, our state’s youth may use them as a
gateway to smoking.”
State Attorneys General have fought for years to protect
people from the dangers of tobacco products. In 1998, the attorneys
general of 52 states and territories signed a landmark agreement with
the four largest tobacco companies in the United States to recover
billions of dollars in costs associated with smoking-related illnesses,
and restrict cigarette advertising to prevent youth smoking.
Zoeller said 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 advertising, the letter highlights the need to protect
youth from becoming addicted to nicotine through these new products.
A survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention shows that from 2011 to 2012, the percentages of youth who
have tried or currently use e-cigarettes both roughly doubled. The
survey estimates that nearly 1.8 million middle and high school students
have tried e-cigarettes in 2012.