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Attorney General Josh Stein Leads Bipartisan Coalition Pushing FDA to Protect Kids from E-Cigarette Addiction

For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Contact: Nazneen Ahmed
919-716-0060

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today led a bipartisan coalition of 33 attorneys general calling on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and its Center for Tobacco Products to do more to protect kids from e-cigarettes. Attorney General Stein’s suggestions include limiting the flavors that draw kids in, reducing nicotine levels to prevent addiction, and protecting young people from marketing. He is co-leading this coalition with the Attorneys General of South Dakota, New Hampshire, and Nevada.

“E-cig companies don’t care if you’re a Republican or a Democrat – they’re targeting your kids either way,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “My fellow state attorneys general and I are taking action to fight back, but we cannot play whack-a-mole. We need the FDA to put in place rules that stop these companies from making and selling dangerous products that harm our kids and that fuel another generation of nicotine addiction.”

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.

Attorney General Stein has been leading the nationwide effort to cut down on youth nicotine addiction and hold e-cigarette manufacturers accountable for harming young people. North Carolina was the first state in the nation to take Juul to court and hold the company accountable for addicting North Carolina teens. He has also sued Juul founders James Monsees and Adam Bowen and is currently investigating Puff Bar and other e-cigarette manufacturers, distributors, and retailers due to ongoing concerns about flavors, age verification, and marketing.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 Stein is joined in sending this letter by the Attorneys General of Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

A copy of the letter is available here.

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