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American Medical Association calls for stricter regulation of electronic cigarettes

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g4034 (Published 16 June 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g4034
  1. Michael McCarthy
  1. 1Seattle

At its annual meeting the American Medical Association has called for stricter regulation of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), battery powered devices that generate vaporized nicotine. They often resemble and are “smoked” like traditional cigarettes, and the nicotine solution is often flavored.

Public health officials have expressed concern that the devices will cause users to become addicted to nicotine and lead them to take up tobacco. Manufacturers have argued that e-cigarettes offer smokers a safer alternative to tobacco and an effective way to wean them from their smoking habit. The use of e-cigarettes among US middle and high school students more than doubled from 3.3% in 2011 to 6.8% in 2012, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

In April of this year the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it would begin to regulate e-cigarettes as a tobacco product. Under proposed rules the agency would ban the sale of the products to anyone under age 18. The rules would also require FDA approval of any claims that the products lower health risks or provide any health benefits.

However, the proposed FDA rules would not ban radio or television advertising or internet sales of e-cigarettes. Nor would they ban the sale of flavored products, which opponents of e-cigarettes have noted are often sweet, candy-like flavors that are favored by young people.

In 2010 the American Medical Association issued a policy calling for e-cigarettes to be subject to the same FDA oversight that the agency applies to other tobacco products. But the association’s new policy extended the 2010 policy and called for regulations requiring childproof packaging and disclosure of the product’s contents and emissions, banning the use of flavors that appeal to minors, and prohibiting unsupported marketing claims that e-cigarettes are an effective tool for giving up tobacco.

Notes

Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g4034