The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's initial efforts to regulate electronic cigarettes fall "far short" of what's needed to protect America's youths, a group of 29 state attorneys general told the FDA today.


Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller was among the state officials who signed a letter urging the FDA to strengthen its proposed regulation of electronic cigarettes, with the goal of protecting young people from the harms of nicotine addiction.


E-cigarettes are a significant and growing part of the cigarette market, according to a press release from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is leading the effort. Among other recommendations, the attorneys general pressed the FDA to prohibit flavors in e-cigarettes, and to restrict advertising and marketing for e-cigarettes in the same manner as for cigarettes.


More than 7,000 flavors are available for e-cigarettes, and more are introduced each month. In 2013, e-cigarette advertisements on television reached over 14 million teenagers, and magazine advertisements reached 9.5 million teens.


Electronic cigarettes contain no tobacco but do contain nicotine generally derived from tobacco.  The nicotine is dissolved in a liquid that, when heated, forms a vapor that is inhaled, delivering nicotine to the lungs.  


In April 2014, the FDA issued proposed regulations deeming e-cigarettes "tobacco products," which puts them under the agency's regulatory jurisdiction.


In their comments, the state AGs urged the FDA to do more to protect children, including: 

  • Prohibit flavors other than tobacco and menthol in e-cigarettes and other tobacco products;
  • Restrict the advertising, marketing and promotion of e-cigarettes in the same ways it has restricted the advertising, marketing and promotion of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, as well as strengthening and updating those restrictions;
  • Define e-cigarette components and parts and apply the proposed restrictions on age verification, vending machine sales and health warnings regardless of whether such components and parts contain nicotine.