Amid concern about theof e-cigarettes to children and teens, lawmakers Monday released a Congressional report urging for the regulation of the fast-growing industry.
“Six months ago, with growing public health concerns regarding liquid nicotine and growing e-cigarette use among young people, my colleagues and I reached out to leading e-cigarette companies with questions about their distribution and marketing to children,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., in statement on his website.
Durbin is one of 11 Democratic members of the Senate or House to issue the report entitled: “Gateway to Addiction? A Survey of Popular Electronic Cigarette Manufacturers and Marketing to Youth.”
The lawmakers are calling on the FDA to promptly issue regulations that would expand the agency’s regulatory authority over tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.
Among the findings are: All nine e-cigarette manufacturers surveyed appear to use various marketing practices that appeal to youth, including social media and sponsoring youth-oriented events; six of nine companies market e-cigarettes in flavors that would appeal to children and teens, such as Cherry Crush; and e-cigarette manufacturers have significantly increased marketing spending between 2012 and 2013.
The lawmakers recommend that e-cigarette companies take immediate action to prevent the sale of their products to children and teenagers, including refraining from the use of TV and radio ads; the FDA promptly issue regulations asserting the agency’s authority to regulate e-cigarettes; and the FDA issue regulations requiring age verification and face-to-face sales of e-cigarettes.
“I am deeply disturbed that e-cigarette companies are mimicking tactics that tobacco companies used in the past to glamorize smoking for youth,” said Sen. John D. Rockefeller, D-W.Va., in the statement. “No mater what profit may be involved with encouraging young people to use nicotine products, marketing e-cigarettes to kids should be absolutely off-limits.”
Ray Story, founder and CEO of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, contends the report is inaccurate.
"The problem with these reports is that they are biased and one-sided,” he said. “There is absolutely no proof that this product is marketed toward children. Children are curious about things [just like] adults so; that’s inherent. It’s the same as alcohol, but you wouldn’t say that was marketed toward children."
Story said that his organization is in favor of regulatory oversight, and has reached out to the FDA and Department of Human Services. However, he said the federal government has not created any regulations. “We still don’t have a regulatory plan in place to set the parameters for this category. The federal government is sitting on its hands … and then pretends it’s the fault of the industry as a whole,” said Story, who is in favor of e-cigarette regulations that are “common sense” and which would allow for the responsible promotion of e-cigarette products to adult users.
In a statement to SN, David Sylvia, spokesman for Nu Mark, the operating company for e-cigarette manufacturer Altria, said the company agrees with a number of the report’s recommendations, including FDA asserting its regulatory authority over e-cigarettes, also know as e-vapor.
“Moreover, Nu Mark believes all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, should be age restricted, be sold in a non-self-service manner (unless in an adult only facility) and include science-based warning labels. … [We] support the FDA developing appropriate marketing regulations which allow e-vapor companies to communicate to adult [smokers], respect adult consumer choice, while at the same time reducing exposure of e-vapor marketing activities to unintended audiences,” said Sylvia.
Richard J. Smith, spokesman for Reynolds American Inc., another e-cigarette manufacturer, told SN: "RAI and its operating companies actively support strengthening and updating state youth tobacco control laws to prohibit youth purchase and possession of tobacco and tobacco-derived nicotine products. This includes prohibitions on youth access to vapor products, also known as electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes.”
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