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AMA Calls For E-Cigarette Regulations, Lawmakers Want Them Off Planes

Adding to the controversial debate surrounding the increasing popularity of e-cigarettes, the American Medical Association (AMA) is calling for much stricter regulations concerning the electronic smoking devices and some lawmakers are pushing to ban “vaping” on airplanes.  

The AMA announced the adoption of a new electronic cigarette (e-cig) policy on Tuesday, which backs a ban on candy-like flavors and calls for imposing more stringent restrictions on advertising and sales.

The medical association is calling for the FDA to adopt much stricter policies than the agency recently proposed, citing the rapid growth of e-cigarette use among minors.

The AMA backs the FDA proposed regulations concerning bans on the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes to minors and stricter regulations for the companies that make the products. However, the policy also calls for a ban on flavors which are appealing to minors, which the FDA did not do. These flavors include, bubble gum, orange cream, fruit punch and many others which make e-cigarettes so widely popular among youth.

Additionally, the AMA wants manufacturers to include disclosures regarding the design, content and emissions of e-cigarettes. The association is also calling for child-proof tamper-resistant packaging, enhanced product labeling and a prohibition on unsupported marketing claims that the products are effective as a smoking cessation tool.

The AMA is the nation’s largest physician organization. The new policy recommendations were adopted at the recent AMA annual meeting and extends the existing policy that was adopted in 2010. That policy calls for e-cigarettes to be subject to the same regulations the FDA applies to tobacco and nicotine products.

Proposed E-Cig Airplane Ban

Adding to the e-cigarette debate, a group of seven U.S. Senators have issued a letter to the Department of Transportation (DOT), urging the agency to finalize rules banning e-cigarettes on domestic flights to or from the U.S.

The rules were proposed nearly three years ago. At the time the DOT noted releasing a vapor that may contain harmful chemicals in a confined space is against the purpose of the regulation, which bans smoking traditional cigarettes on an airplane.

The DOT plea follows a congressional report issued in April, which indicated e-cigarette manufacturers intentionally target children with advertisements, using celebrity endorsement and offering the products in candy-like flavors.

The report called the devices a gateway to traditional cigarette addiction for teens and called on the FDA to assert its authority over the electronic devices, specifically concerning advertising,

FDA Regulation and Rising Teen Use

The initial proposal by the FDA concerning e-cigarette regulation fell short of the mark for many critics. It was announced in April that the FDA will oversee the vapor products, indicating that the agency intends to restrict the use of the products from minors under the age of 18.

Many applauded this as a first step, yet criticized the move of falling short of what is needed to curb the rise in teen users because the FDA said it did not plan to regulate child appealing candy flavors.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported use by students in middle and high school more than doubled from 2011 to 2012.

A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics revealed teen exposure to e-cigarette advertising increased 256% from 2011 to 2013. The results prompt lawmakers to be more wary of the effects e-cigarette advertising may have on young users, calling for stricter regulations in hopes it may help curb teen use.

The study suggested that young adult exposure increased more than 300% during the same time. More than 76% of all youth e-cigarette advertising exposure occurred on cable networks, driven by a campaign for only one e-cigarette brand.

In 2010, the FDA issued warning letters to five e-cigarette makers. The letters warned manufacturers against advertising the devices as a means to help cigarette smokers quit the habit.

Despite the warnings, many e-cigarette manufacturers have continued this type of marketing.

Another study released last month found when young smokers watch someone else smoke an e-cigarette they are more likely to also feel the urge to smoke a traditional cigarette. The study was published in the journal Tobacco Control and linked exposure to e-cigarettes to an increased urge of smoking in young adult smokers. The study’s findings may have wide implications for how e-cigarettes are advertised going forward.

Photo Courtesy of Lindsay Fox / CC by 2.0

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