Leaders in 38 states are asking the FDA to restrict advertising and sales of electronic cigarettes to minors.
Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper joined 37 other attorneys general in asking the FDA to place restrictions on e-cigarettes and their ingredients, which they said are becoming popular alternatives to traditional tobacco products.
"We are always concerned when a potentially dangerous product is being sold to the public without regulation," Cooper said in a prepared statement. "This is especially alarming when companies attract youth to addictive products through advertising."
The attorneys general expressed their concerns in a bipartisan letter and asked the FDA to take all available measures to regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products under the Tobacco Control Act.
E-cigarettes are devices that contain liquid that is heated at a low degree and turns into vapor, manager of new store Vapor Tonics Ben Connally said recently. Click here to read about Connally's new Vine Street store.
Connally also said Tuesday that he doesn't sell his products to minors.
Unlike traditional tobacco products, there are no federal age restrictions that would prevent children from obtaining e-cigarettes, state leaders said.
According to the letter to the FDA, e-cigarette manufacturers have used cartoon characters—which have been banned from use by tobacco manufacturers for years—and fruit and candy flavors that are often attractive to minors.
E-cigarettes and refills of liquid nicotine solution can be obtained over the Internet without age verification, according to a news release from Cooper.
State attorneys general have fought for years to protect people from the dangers of tobacco products, according to the news release.
In 1998, the attorneys general of 52 states and territories signed an agreement with the four largest tobacco companies in the United States to recover billions of dollars in costs associated with smoking-related illnesses and restrict cigarette advertising to prevent youth from smoking, also according to the release.
According to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2011, about 21 percent of adults who smoke traditional cigarettes had used e-cigarettes, according to Nooga.com archives from earlier this month.
That's up from about 10 percent in 2010.
Overall, about 6 percent of adults have tried the devices.
"E-cigarette use is growing rapidly," CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, said in a prepared statement. "There is still a lot we don’t know about these products, including whether they will decrease or increase use of traditional cigarettes."
The CDC reported that e-cigarettes appear to have far fewer toxins than traditional cigarettes, but officials said there needs to be more research on the long-term effects on health.
And CDC leaders want more research to see how e-cigarette marketing could impact initiation and use of traditional cigarettes, particularly among young people.
USA Today reported that 10 percent of high school students said they had tried an e-cigarette as of 2012. That's up from 4.7 percent in 2011.
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