East Hawaii News

Hawaii, 38 Other States Ask FDA to Regulate E-Cigarettes

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Hawaii’s attorney general today joined his counterparts in 38 other states in asking the US Food and Drug Administration to establish regulations on electronic cigarettes.

A letter sent to the FDA signed by David Louie and the other states’ attorneys general asks the agency to classify e-cigarettes as “tobacco products” and to place restrictions on their advertising and ingredients.

E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that heat liquid-based nicotine derived from tobacco plants and convert it into a vapor inhaled by the user.

Louie issued a press release today describing the devices as “highly addictive,” and said the FDA is being asked to prohibit their sale to minors.

“Unlike traditional tobacco products, there are no federal age restrictions that would prevent children from obtaining e-cigarettes,” Louie said. He noted that because of the growing use of e-cigarettes and the growing prevalence of advertising, the FDA needs to step in to “protect youth from becoming addicted to nicotine through these new products.”

According to the letter, nearly 1.8 million middle and high school students tried e-cigarettes in  2012. That was roughly double the number who tried them the year before.

The US surgeon general has described nicotine as highly addictive and toxic in high doses.

E-cigarettes are being marketed in ways similar to tobacco products in the past including celebrity endorsements, television ads, cartoons, fruit flavors and cheap prices, all of which serve to encourage youth consumption of the products, the statement said.

Advertising claims that e-cigarettes are a safe alternative to smoking are misleading, the statement said, because the health effects of their use has not been adequately studied.

“The lack of regulation of e-cigarettes puts youth at risk of developing a lifelong addiction to a potentially dangerous product that could also act as a gateway to using other tobacco products,” the statement said.


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