CHICAGO (Legal Newsline) - Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday to regulate the ingredients and advertising of e-cigarettes and ban the sale of the products to minors.
Madigan joined 39 other attorneys general in writing a letter to the FDA. The letter called on the agency to regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products under the Tobacco Control Act. E-cigarettes are battery-operated products that heat liquid nicotine, turning it into a vapor that is inhaled by the user. There are currently no federal age restrictions to prevent children from obtaining e-cigarettes.
Madigan and the other attorneys general urged the FDA to act to protect children and teens from becoming addicted to nicotine. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentages of youth who tried or currently use e-cigarettes approximately doubled from 2011 to 2012. The survey estimated that close to 1.8 million middle and high school students tried e-cigarettes.
"It's widely known that most adult smokers start smoking at an early age, in part because manufacturers and advertisers have historically targeted young consumers with flashy marketing campaigns and deceptive health claims," Madigan said. "We're seeing the same tactics at work in the e-cigarette industry. The FDA needs to put a stop to this before more teens take up this dangerous habit."
The letter alleges that e-cigarettes are using television ads, cartoons, celebrity endorsements, cheap prices and attractive packaging to encourage youth consumption of the products, despite a lack of information about the health effects of e-cigarettes. The attorneys general allege the users of e-cigarettes are inhaling unknown chemicals with unknown effects. The letter also alleges that the lack of regulation of e-cigarettes puts youth at risk of developing a lifelong addiction to a potentially dangerous product that could serve as a gateway to other tobacco products.
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, nicotine is highly addictive and immediately causes bio-chemical effects on the brain and body at any dosage.