E-Cigarette Warning Labeling Rules Get Support From Medical Groups In Lawsuit Challenge

Several public health groups are looking to intervene in a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s right to put warning labels on electronic cigarettes. 

A motion filed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and the Truth Initiative seeks to allow the groups to file briefs in support of the FDA’s ability to regulate e-cigarettes.

The requests were filed in federal district courts in the District of Columbia and Alabama, in response to lawsuits filed by the Cigar Association of America and Cyclops Vapor 2, LLC, which seek to prevent FDA regulations for the increasingly popular electronic cigarette industry.

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The FDA regulations were introduced during the Obama administration, and would force manufacturers to establish warnings on e-cigarette products, as well as cigars and other previously unregulated tobacco products. It also calls for e-cigarette products to go through the proper approval process, much like other tobacco products. The regulation applies to e-cigarette products that hit the stores after February 15, 2007.

The regulation came amid a growing number of studies indicating using e-cigarettes may be just as addictive as smoking traditional cigarettes.

The health groups indicate the FDA, which is now under the Trump administration, is not posed to defend the ruling, and may try to rescind it or weaken it. Recently, the Department of Justice requested a delay in the case. The agency announced plans to push a key compliance deadline back by three months.

The agency also asked for all deadlines in the case to be pushed back by three months so that new leadership in the Department of Health and Human services can consider the Rule and the issues raised in this case and determine how to proceed.

In 2014, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) raised warnings concerning e-cigarettes, indicating the products may lead a new generation to start smoking tobacco cigarettes. Late last year, the Surgeon General issued a strong warning against e-cigarettes, calling the products a “major public health concern.”

The Department of Justice under the Obama administration defended the rule as key to protecting public health and the health of the nation’s youth, considering e-cigarette liquid is sold in myriad candy-like flavors appealing to teens.

A study published in 2016 indicated candy flavored e-cigarettes increase a teen’s risk of smoking tobacco cigarettes in the future. Another recent study indicated e-cigarettes are the most popular form of tobacco use among teens in the U.S.

The group of six health organizations contend rolling back the rule would have a direct adverse effect on public health among youth.

Last week, D.C. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled to uphold the regulation. The judge ruled against the e-liquids manufacturer Nicopure Labs. Jackson highlighted the rule would make e-cigarettes subject to the same set of rules already in place for conventional cigarettes.

“The Rule requires manufacturers to subject their products to review before marketing them, to tell the truth when making any claims about their health benefits, and to warn consumers about the dangers of nicotine when offering a means to deliver the substance to consumers,” wrote Jackson. “In short, the manufacturers of e-cigarettes are now required to tell the 30 million people who use the devices what is actually in the liquid being vaporized and inhaled.”

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