Ohio AG wants FDA regulations on e-cigarettes

By Frank Lewis

September 26, 2013

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

If you have been seen more and more people smoking strange looking, smokeless cigarettes, there’s a reason. Booming electronic cigarette sales in the U.S. are set to more than double this year hitting $1.7 billion, a top tobacco analyst predicts.

According to CNBC, analyst Bonnie Herzog of Wells Fargo Securities said “conservative data” already indicates that sales of e-cigarettes this year have already reached $700 million from traditional retail outlets like convenience stores. Throw in estimated online sales of $500 million to $625 million and total year-to-date sales are above $1 billion.

Now, Ohio Attorney General DeWine is urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue proposed regulations on electronic cigarettes. The bipartisan letter to the FDA was issued jointly with Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley and was co-signed by attorneys general from 38 additional states and territories. And why do they want them regulated?

“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 wrote in his letter. “We ask the FDA to move quickly to ensure that all tobacco products are tested and regulated to ensure that companies do not continue to sell or advertise to our nation’s youth.”

DeWine’s letter urges the FDA to take all available measures to regulate e-cigarettes as “tobacco products” under the Tobacco Control Act. E-cigarettes, an increasingly widespread product whose popularity is growing rapidly among both youth and adults, are battery operated products that heat liquid nicotine, derived from tobacco plants, into a vapor that is inhaled by the user.

DeWine’s letter expresses concern that e-cigarette manufacturers are using marketing tactics similar to those tobacco companies used in the past to attract new smokers. DeWine said celebrity endorsements, television advertising, cartoons, fruit flavors, attractive packaging and cheap prices all serve to encourage youth consumption of what he termed - “these dangerous products.”

“Advertisements also imply that e-cigarettes are a safe alternative to smoking, when, in fact, nicotine is highly addictive, the health effects of e-cigarettes have not been adequately studied, and the ingredients are not regulated and may still contain carcinogens,” DeWine said.

This is the first letter DeWine has co-authored to become National Association of Attorneys General policy, which requires the signatures of 36 attorneys general. In addition to Ohio and Massachusetts, the letter to the FDA was signed by the attorneys general of Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Washington, and Wyoming.

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.