LINCOLN—Today, Attorney General Mike Hilgers and a bipartisan coalition of 33 attorneys general called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and its Center for Tobacco Products to do more to protect kids from e-cigarettes. The Attorney General’s suggestions include limiting the flavors that draw kids in, reducing nicotine levels to prevent addiction, and protecting young people from marketing.
“Parents, schools, and law enforcement have been clear – vaping among young Nebraskans is a real problem. The rapid rise of e-cigarette use among underage Nebraskans is having a negative impact on communities and families. Our office will continue to protect young Nebraskans, and we urge the FDA to use its tools to help protect Nebraska youth from the harmful effects of vaping and addiction,” stated AG Hilgers.
More than 9,000 types of e-cigarette devices are sold in the United States, and nearly 6,000 of those are disposable devices. Last year, 14 percent of high school students reported that they were currently using e-cigarettes. Teen nicotine consumption is linked to nicotine poisoning, mental health and behavioral problems, academic issues, and future addiction to other substances.
In a letter submitted to the FDA responding to a request for comments on the Center’s proposed five-year strategic plan, the coalition of attorneys general urge the FDA to set up guardrails to prevent young people from getting addicted to nicotine through e-cigarettes.
The attorneys general recommend that the FDA:
Prohibit all non-tobacco flavors in e-cigarettes. These flavors – mimicking fruits, candies, and desserts – are a major reason young people try e-cigarettes in the first place.
Enact evidence-based limits on nicotine in e-cigarettes. More than 80 percent of e-cigarettes sold have more than five percent of nicotine concentration. And because some devices last for hundreds or thousands of puffs, young people end up consuming much more nicotine.
Restrict marketing that attracts youth by making sure marketing materials don’t target them and preventing young people from being bombarded with ads about e-cigarettes. E-cigarette manufacturers have used social media and influencer marketing to entice teenagers.
Close the “disposable loophole.” Disposable e-cigarettes have not been subject to the same existing FDA enforcement guidance as cartridge e-cigarettes, and they’ve surged in popularity. More than half of youth e-cigarette users last year reported that they use disposable e-cigarettes instead of cartridge-based e-cigarettes.
The attorneys general are also asking the FDA to promptly enforce the law against companies and sellers across the e-cigarette supply chain who are flouting federal regulations.
Attorney General Hilgers is joined in sending this letter by the Attorneys General of North Carolina, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin.