The e-cigarette industry has become a lucrative business but not everyone is happy. The popularity of the device, which is often promoted as an alternative to traditional cigarettes that have been proven to cause a number of health consequences such as heart attacks and lung cancer, has also raised concerns of possible negative health implications.
While federal health regulators have already proposed restrictions on e-cigarettes earlier this year, which include prohibiting the sale of the product to individuals below 18 years old, many are apparently not satisfied with the federal restrictions.
On Friday, a group of 29 state attorneys general called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to tighten its grip of the $2.5 billion e-cigarette industry. In a 33-page letter for the FDA, the group said that although the proposed rules address some of the concerns over the use of electronic cigarettes, these did not address other issues such as those that pertain flavors that make e-cigarettes more enticing for the youth and e-cigarette marketing.
In their letter, the attorneys general said that e-cigarettes are available in thousands of candy and fruit flavors that could be appealing to young people. In 2009, the FDA banned all flavors for traditional cigarettes except for menthol and the group is urging the agency to impose similar restrictions on e-cigarette products to protect the health of the public, especially the youth.
"It is imperative that the FDA act now to impose the same flavor ban on other tobacco products that is currently in place for cigarettes," the letter reads. "Such a ban would complement the FDA's proposal to age-restrict these products."
New York's Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said that although e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, the products have addictive qualities that are comparable to those of regular cigarettes. Schneiderman said that e-cigarette companies spend millions to advertise their products each year and often on prime-time TV, which glamorizes smoking the same way traditional cigarette products were promoted before their commercials were banned and is leading more youths to try electronic cigarettes and thus expose themselves to the dangers of nicotine. The letter also pointed out that the rules for the advertising and marketing of e-cigarettes should be the same with those that are imposed on traditional cigarette products.
"We urge you to not only adopt the proposed deeming rule, but to also take the actions recommended herein as appropriate for the protection of public health," the 29 state attorneys general urged the FDA.