US Senator Chuck Schumer says the Food and Drug Administration should immediately ban e-cigarette flavors like candy and cookies that can appeal to young people in the wake of warnings that teens and children are increasingly using e-cigarettes.
Schumer yesterday released a letter to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb saying the agency had the legal authority to regulate e-cigarette flavors, and encouraging it to do so.
Health and education officials have warned that underage usage of the e-cigarettes, which are marketed as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes, is increasing.
Schumer’s new letter to FDA Commissioner Gottlieb appears below:
Dear Commissioner Gottlieb:
Since Congress granted the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products in 2009, the FDA has taken a number of commendable steps to reduce the dangers and harms of smoking. This includes educating the public about the risks of smoking, identifying and prohibiting deceptive tobacco marketing, and more. While cigarette smoking among high school students is at a record low – only 8 percent as of 2016 – this accomplishment is at risk due to the rise of non-cigarette smoking products, particularly e-cigarettes and the JUUL vaping device. E-cigarette use among middle and high school students more than tripled between 2011 and 2016, and e-cigarette companies are raking in record profits.
Each e-liquid cartridge, or JUUL Pod, contains roughly as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. While the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes remain unclear, public health professions have significant concerns about the immediate harmful effects of e-cigarettes on children’s developing brains and bodies.
Many of the flavors e-cigarette manufacturers make available are highly appealing to children, including crème brulee, mango, cool mint and fruit medley. While the makers of these products routinely assert that children are not intended to use them, I doubt that any reasonable person would claim that such flavors are not uniquely attractive to and targeted at children. As a leading child psychiatrist at NYU Medical Center said, “Who over 25 is looking for crème brulee as part of a smoking experience?”
I appreciate and applaud the May 1, 2018 announcement in which the FDA and FTC issued 13 warning letters to manufacturers, distributors, and retailers for selling e-liquids with advertising that made them appear similar to food products – such as candy, cookies or juice boxes – that are targeted at children. Some of the product flavors that received warning letters include Vape Heads Sour Smurf Sauce, V’Nilla Cookies & Milk, Golden Oreo, Whip’d Strawberry and Twirly Pop, which quite literally is shipped along with a Unicorn lollipop.
While this latest FDA action is a positive step in the right direction, more must be done. The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009 gives the FDA significant authority over a variety of tobacco products, as well as the authority to expand its jurisdiction to other products such as e-cigarettes. I strongly encourage the FDA to use the full extent of its authority and outright ban kid-friendly flavors in all e-cigarette devices.
I am confident and recognize that you share my concerns about the risks e-cigarettes present to children. The use of e-cigarettes among children is rising at a booming rate, and the FDA must act swiftly to stem the tide. It cannot to afford to wait or move too slowly in its response. I encourage you to use the FDA’s existing authority to fully ban kid-friendly e-cigarette flavors, and I look forward to continuing to work together to ensure greater safety for our country’s children.
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer