U.S. city health officials want tighter restrictions on e-cigarettes

WASHINGTON Fri May 2, 2014 1:53am IST

Various e-cigarette products for sale are seen at the Henley Vaporium in New York City December 18, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Segar/Files

Various e-cigarette products for sale are seen at the Henley Vaporium in New York City December 18, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Segar/Files

Related Topics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A group of urban health officials on Thursday urged the Food and Drug Administration to go beyond the regulations it proposed last week for e-cigarettes and treat them like regular cigarettes.

In an open letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, the Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC) noted that the FDA has nothing in its proposed regulations that would govern the advertising of e-cigarettes, which it said often targets the youth market.

The FDA did propose banning sales of e-cigarettes to those under the age of 18.

The e-cigarette industry, estimated at $2 billion and growing, did not object loudly to last week's proposed FDA rules, which many health officials found too loose.

According to the BCHC, there were "gaps" in the rules that need to be filled.

"We urge you follow our lead and use your full authority to apply all current tobacco regulations to e-cigarettes," public health officials representing 11 of the biggest U.S. cities said in their letter. "The FDA must move quickly to address the growing concern about youth use beyond setting a minimum age requirement to purchase e-cigarettes."

Battery-powered e-cigarettes contain a cartridge that is filled with a nicotine-laced liquid, which is vaporized and then inhaled. Advocates say they are safer than standard cigarettes because they do not produce lung-destroying tar.

But the BCHC said e-cigarettes also deliver dangerous chemicals and carcinogens, adding that the level of nicotine indicated on e-cigarette labels is not always correct.

The federal government has restricted traditional cigarette advertising, including banning television ads, but there are no such limitations in the FDA's proposed e-cigarette rules.

The BCHC said big tobacco companies, such as Reynolds American Inc, Lorillard Inc and Altria Group Inc, are boosting their advertising budgets, which could be risky for teenagers.

"E-cigarette advertisements regularly employ youth-oriented marketing strategies that the tobacco industry used decades ago such as celebrity endorsements and messages that associate smoking e-cigarettes with themes like freedom, rebelliousness and glamour," the coalition said.

Richard J. Smith, a spokesman for Reynolds American, which makes the VUSE e-cigarette, said his company does not target the youth market and limits its television advertising to programs viewed primarily by adults.

Some local governments have placed restrictions on e-cigarettes, but the BCHC said uniform nationwide regulations are needed.

The FDA's proposed rules, which require a health warning on e-cigarettes and ban vending machine sales and free samples, are subject to a public-comment period of 75 days.

The letter to Hamburg was signed by public health officials from New York, Los Angeles County, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and San Jose, California.

(Reporting by Bill Trott; editing by G Crosse and Leslie Adler)

FILED UNDER:

Online Shopping

An empty shopping cart is seen outside a Best Buy store in Westbury, New York November 28, 2014. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

BestBuy.com back online after second Black Friday outage

Best Buy Co Inc's retail website is back online after it was down for a second time on Black Friday, the busiest U.S. shopping day in terms of sales and traffic since 2005, according to ShopperTrak.  Full Article 

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Gold Imports

Gold Imports

India eases gold import rule in surprise move.  Article 

Indians in Iraq

Indians in Iraq

India says no contact with 39 men held by Islamic State in Iraq.  Full Article 

Sahara Issue

Sahara Issue

Sahara looks to raise $650 million loan to fund bail.  Full Article 

Test Match Postponed

Test Match Postponed

First test against India postponed after death of Hughes  Full Article | Related Story 

Bhopal Tragedy

Bhopal Tragedy

Bhopal's toxic legacy lives on, 30 years after industrial disaster.  Full Article 

Banking Sector

Banking Sector

After record deal, more India bank takeovers on cards  Full Article 

Islamic Fund

Islamic Fund

India gets new Islamic equity fund but debt market still off-limits  Full Article 

Nigeria Violence

Nigeria Violence

Bombs, gunfire kill 81 at crowded mosque in Nigeria's Kano  Full Article 

Movie Review

Movie Review

D’Silva's “Ungli” just skims the surface  Full Article | Related Story 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage