As makers of electronic cigarettes invest in multimillion-dollar marketing campaigns, a backlash against the devices is brewing, according to The Kansas City Star. Last week, 40 attorneys general sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asking the agency to regulate e-cigarettes like tobacco products.
An e-cigarette plugged in to charge in a car recently exploded and burned a 3-year-old boy in his car seat in Provo, Utah. There have been several other reports of exploding e-cigarettes, the article notes. Some states and cities have restricted the use of e-cigarettes, which have been banned on all U.S. flights and Amtrak trains.
The attorneys general said sales of e-cigarettes have doubled every year since 2008. They are projected to reach $1.7 billion this year. The cost has decreased, making them more appealing to young people. Unlike traditional tobacco products, there are no federal age restrictions that prevent children from buying e-cigarettes, and there are no advertising restrictions, the letter states.
“Consumers are led to believe that e-cigarettes are a safe alternative to cigarettes, despite the fact that they are addictive, and there is no regulatory oversight ensuring the safety of the ingredients in e-cigarettes,” they wrote.
The FDA has authority to regulate cigarettes, cigarette tobacco and roll-your-own tobacco, but not e-cigarettes, pipe tobacco or cigars. Under a 2009 law, the FDA can expand its authority over all tobacco products, but it must first issue new regulations. Earlier this month, public health organizations including the American Academy of Pediatrics sent a letter to President Obama, asking him to pressure the FDA into issuing e-cigarette regulations.
A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found use of e-cigarettes among middle and high schools students doubled from 2011 to 2012. The CDC found 10 percent of high school students had tried an e-cigarette last year, compared with 5 percent the previous year.