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Jan. 22: State health department calls on FDA to regulate e-cigarettes, other new tobacco products

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Dave Brendsel
Communications Specialist
Prevention Services Division

State health department calls on FDA to regulate e-cigarettes,

other new tobacco products

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and several local health agencies urge the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to regulate electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and other new tobacco products to protect public health and prevent a new generation of Coloradans from becoming addicted.
“We call on the FDA to regulate all tobacco products,” said Dr. Larry Wolk, department executive director and chief medical officer. “We need to close the loopholes that let the tobacco industry market products that threaten the health of Coloradans.”
In 2013, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers joined 40 state attorneys general in urging the FDA to regulate e-cigarettes. The health department’s recommendation –  supported by Boulder, Clear Creek, Denver, El Paso, Hinsdale, Jefferson, Larimer, Lincoln, Otero and Tri-County health departments and Denver Environmental Health – is for the FDA to regulate all new tobacco products. Specifically, these health agencies want the FDA to require a minimum age of 18 years to purchase all tobacco products; prohibit self-service and online sales; and prohibit tobacco marketing practices aimed at youth, including flavored products and individual sales and samples.
The FDA currently regulates cigarettes, loose tobacco and smokeless tobacco, but does not regulate e-cigarettes, little cigars or dissolvable tobacco (orbs, sticks, etc.). Though little is known about these products, their popularity is rising. According to the CDC, e-cigarette use doubled nationally from 2010 to 2011. An estimated 6.9 percent of Colorado adults have tried e-cigarettes and R.J. Reynolds has test-marketed electronic cigarettes and dissolvable tobacco in Colorado.
“I am concerned about tobacco use among youth, especially products other than cigarettes, such as e-cigarettes, flavored cigars and hookah tobacco. These products are being aggressively marketed to our youth and, unfortunately, it is working,” says Dr. William Burman, director of Denver Public Health. “Use of e-cigarettes and flavored tobacco products is rising among youth. It is time that the FDA regulated these products like cigarettes.”
Health experts contend FDA regulation would allow greater enforcement of illegal sales to minors; support the rationale for consistent state and local regulation and taxation; reduce the appeal of new and flavored products to young people; and send a clear message to consumers about potential health risks.