AG Gansler to E-Cigarette Makers: What Are You Doing to Prevent Youth Nicotine Poisoning and Stop Marketing to Children?
Studies show popularity of "vaping" on the rise, along with related calls to poison control centers, marketing and flavoring that appeal to minors
Baltimore, MD (May 5, 2014) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler today wrote to 10 e-cigarette manufacturers seeking action and answers to disturbing trends concerning the increasingly-popular nicotine delivery device and its e-liquids or "e-juice" refills. A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study found an alarming spike in calls to poison control centers nationwide related to the ingestion, inhalation and contact with skin or eyes of highly toxic nicotine liquid from e-cigarette refill cartridges or other containers. More than 50 percent of those calls involve children under the age of five. This disturbing trend appears at the same time that studies show electronic cigarette makers are attempting to increase sales to potential underage users through youth-oriented marketing and flavorings that appeal to children.
"We are seeing evidence that the liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes poses a serious risk of poisoning to children and adults," said Attorney General Gansler. "Unlike traditional tobacco products, this industry is unregulated. There are no uniform health and safety warning labels and no standards for childproof packaging. E-cigarette use by youth is growing and this industry needs to get better control of how it markets and appeals to minors."
Maryland is one of many states and cities that have already banned the sale of e-cigarettes to children under the age of 18. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed a similar age restriction, while some state and local governments are instituting or considering bans on the use of e-cigarettes in public places for health reasons. In the meantime, some e-cigarette manufacturers and retailers continue to produce and sell youth-oriented products with names or flavorings such as Gummi Bear, bubble gum, cotton candy and Papa Smurph E-Liquid.
Quoting from Attorney General Gansler's letter to e-cigarette and nicotine liquid makers:
I would like to know what you are doing to address poisonings and to prevent the sale of your products to underage youths. To the extent that you have not already done so, I urge you to take action to address these significant public health issues, including:
- Placing clear and conspicuous warnings on the packaging for e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine cartridges that warn of the dangers of touching or ingesting nicotine. We believe that this is information that is material to consumers, the omission of which would constitute an unfair or deceptive trade practice.
- Refraining from marketing that appeals to children, including not offering and selling flavors of liquid nicotine that appeal to children. Marketing these products in a manner that makes them attractive to children could also constitute an unfair or deceptive trade practice.
- Using product designs that prevent inadvertent exposure to liquid nicotine and limit children's ability to access the liquid nicotine.
Additionally, I would like to know whether the cartridges or other containers of liquid nicotine that you offer are childproof, and whether their design prevents the inadvertent exposure of liquid nicotine to children and adults.
For an example of the letter and more about the studies and other related information, visit:
Example letter from Attorney General Gansler to e-cigarette manufacturers:
CDC study finds dramatic increase in e-cigarette-related calls to poison centers (April 3, 2014)
New Report on Electronic Cigarettes Underscores Critical Need for Advertising Restrictions to Limit Product's Appeal to Youth (May 1, 2014)
Legacy Study - VAPORIZED: E-CIGARETTES, ADVERTISING, AND YOUTH
7 Ways E-Cigarette Companies Are Copying Big Tobacco's Playbook (October 2, 2013)
(or 7 reasons FDA should quickly regulate e-cigarettes)
Notes from the Field: Electronic Cigarette Use Among Middle and High School Students - United States, 2011-2012