Bill Would Ban Marketing, Sale Of Electronic Cigarettes To Minors; Create Regulations On Packages & Labeling

ecigEarlier this month a new study found that it was increasingly easy for teens to purchase e-cigarettes despite a plethora of laws prohibiting the sale of such products to minors. Today, a group of Senators are taking action to make it more difficult for minors to purchase the products by creating restrictions on sales and marketing of e-cigarettes.

The legislation, known as the Stop Selling and Marketing to Our Kids (SMOKE) Act, would ban companies from selling and marketing e-cigarettes to children, as well as direct the Food and Drug Administration to create regulations regarding the safe packaging, doses, and labeling of the products.

“E-Cigarette makers think they can take us back to the days of Joe Camel,” bill co-sponsor and California Representative Jackie Speier says in a statement. “They are selling nicotine to children in flavors like gummy bear, cotton candy, and chocolate cake. Something is gravely wrong with that picture. The SMOKE Act would establish that e-cigarettes are for adults, not minors, and it would ensure they are safely regulated and packaged so that they can’t harm children.”

As part of the FDA’s requirements under the SMOKE Act, the regulators must establish childproof packaging standards, dosage limits, maximum levels of nicotine concentration, and nicotine concentration labeling requirements.

The SMOKE Act would also direct the Federal Trade Commission to designate advertising that increases the usage of e-cigarette products among minors as an unfair or deceptive practice. The FTC and state attorneys general would then have the authority to prosecute violators and impose penalties.

E-cigarettes have become increasingly popular in recent years, while the Food & Drug Administration has been slow to implement federal regulations.

The FDA’s proposed regulations include a ban on selling the products to minors, but those rules have yet to be finalized. Additionally, the proposed rules do not take internet sells into consideration.

According to the study published in JAMA Pediatrics earlier this month, teens had little trouble purchasing e-cigarettes through online retailers across the country.

The study, which included 11 teens ages 14 to 17, found that participants were able to buy the products in 94% of attempts.

In all, only five of the 98 purchases were rejected based on consumer’s age. Those attempts were blocked because of parental control settings on the computer.

When the packages were delivered, none of the teens were asked to show proof of age. In 95% of the cases, the study reports, the packages were simply left on the doorstep.

According to the study, seven of the 98 online e-cigarette retailers claimed to use age verification techniques capable of complying with North Carolina law, which requires online retailers to verify e-cigarette customer’s ages with a government records database.

Congresswoman Jackie Speier Introduces Bill to Prevent Marketing and Sales of E-Cigarettes to Minors [Jackie Speier]

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