At its annual meeting in Chicago this week, the biggest and most influential physicians’ group in the U.S. adopted a new policy on e-cigs, calling for the FDA to take measures to prevent use by minors.
The association is recommending compulsory child-proofing and tamper-proofing of products and packaging, which are not explicitly required by the FDA’s so-called deeming regulations, released earlier this year and now in a public comments phase.
It also calls for restrictions on “flavours that appeal to minors”, a major concern of those believing e-cigs are proving enticing to children, and one that the FDA regulations did not address at all.
The AMA said, too, that the FDA should require disclosures from manufacturers on the composition of e-cig vapour as well as product ingredients. The FDA has indicated that e-cig firms will have to supply it with product information including ingredients lists, but the AMA appears to want the regulator to go further.
The association also recommends “enhanced product labelling”, although the main FDA requirement so far in that area is a standard health warning, and “prohibition of unsupported marketing claims as a tobacco cessation tool”, which the FDA’s rules already would only allow with specific permission.
The regulations released in April did impose a ban on sales to minors.
What This Means: Representing more than 200,000 doctors and medical students, the AMA has since 2010 called for e-cigarettes to be regulated the same way as tobacco. This week’s updated policy suggests that it does not believe the FDA is going far enough in that direction.
It also highlights the increasing concern over minors’ use of e-cigarettes, much fuelled by last September’s report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) saying that the percentage of U.S. middle school and high school students who had used e-cigs more than doubled between 2011 and 2012.
Whether e-cigarettes are in fact a gateway into much more harmful tobacco smoking for any meaningful number of users remains an open question. The fact that they are perceived that way in influential places cannot be doubted, and the pressure on regulators to address this is only likely to grow.
– Barnaby Page ECigIntelligence staff
Photo: Jay Reed