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FDA Takes Aim At E-cigarettes While Poisonings Skyrocket - May 9, 2016

Beginning in August, new federal guidelines will restrict how people can buy and use electronic cigarettes.  These sweeping changes will require the devices and their ingredients be reviewed.  This first-ever mandate could offer protection for consumers and upend a multibillion dollar industry that has gone largely unregulated.

Before brands are allowed to stay on the market, regulators will check the e-cigarettes’ design and the liquid nicotine they contain. The fast-growing devices have found a foothold with teenagers.  These new guidelines also set an age restriction of 18 for anyone wanting to buy electronic cigarettes or the liquid nicotine that goes into them.

“Millions of kids are being introduced to nicotine every year, a new generation hooked on a highly addictive chemical,” Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said. “We cannot let the enormous progress we’ve made toward a tobacco-free generation be undermined by products that impact our health and economy in this way.”

The rules issued by the Food and Drug Administration also will extend long-standing restrictions on traditional cigarettes to a host of other products, including e-cigarettes, hookah tobacco, pipe tobacco and nicotine gels.

Battery-powered e-cigarettes turn liquid nicotine into an inhalable vapor. They lack the chemicals and tars of burning tobacco, but the cigarettes have not been extensively studied, and there’s no scientific consensus on the risks or advantages of “vaping.”

We do, however, have evidence that more kids are being accidentally poisoned by the liquid nicotine.  Just days after the FDA announced its new regulations the National Poison Data System announced its study findings that say the number of children under 6 poisoned by nicotine in e-cigarettes rose nearly 1,500% from 2013 to 2015.  One child even died.

More than 90% of the children swallowed the nicotine-laced liquid, known as e-juice, that is smoked inside e-cigarettes. Nearly half of the exposed children were under the age of 2.  Children are easily attracted to the colorful bottles and the flavors of e-juice.  It comes in a rainbow of colors and flavors, mimicking candy and desserts: bubble gum, gummy candy, marshmallow, chocolate, fruit flavors, even glazed doughnut and pie crust flavors. 

The study found children were often able to get to the products because they were improperly stored or left out in the open.  "We take this very seriously,"said Ray Story, founder and CEO of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association.  "We already tell users to refill their devices say away from children and store all e-cigarette products in a safe, childproof place.  These are irresponsible adults who are not handling the product with care."

Critics of the industry have called for manufacturers to limit or change flavors, packaging and labeling so that they are less appealing to youngsters.

While the FDA did announce it will extend its authority over e-cigarettes and other tobacco products like hookahs and cigars, it declined to limit the flavorings, saying it will address that in the future.



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