FDA should regulate e-cigarettes, 40 state attorney generals say

electronic-cigarettesBy Shan Li, Los Angeles Times

Forty state attorneys general sent a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration asking the agency to regulate electronic cigarettes to address their marketing, ingredients and sale to minors.

The FDA has set a deadline of Oct. 31 to issue proposals to regulate the devices,  known as e-cigarettes. But the agency has delayed action in the past.

The letter urges the FDA to rein in marketing of e-cigarettes, which has grown as the demand for such smokeless products have climbed. Some advertising containing cartoons  targets children, a marketing method that has been banned for makers of traditional cigarettes, the letter said. Some e-cigarettes contain fruit and candy flavors such as gummy bear and bubble gum that appeal to young people.

Ohio Atty. Gen. Mike DeWine, a co-sponsor of  the letter, asked the FDA to regulate e-cigarettes like other tobacco products.

"Unlike traditional tobacco products, there are no federal age restrictions that would prevent children from obtaining e-cigarettes, nor are there any advertising restrictions," DeWine said in a statement.

Electronic cigarettes  deliver an experience similar to standard cigarettes by heating liquid nicotine in a disposable cartridge and producing a vapor that can be inhaled. Smokers can buy additional cartridges, often at cheaper prices than traditional cigarettes.

Traditional cigarette makers are venturing into these smokeless alternatives to  their traditional business. Tobacco giant Altria Group Inc. launched its first e-cigarette earlier this year amid a slump in sales of its classic Marlboro brand.