Schneiderman: FDA Proposal Falls Far Short Of What Is Needed To Protect Our Youth
(Long Island, NY) Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, together with the attorneys general of Illinois and Indiana, co-sponsored a letter to the Food and Drug Administration today urging the FDA to take immediate action to stem the increasing incidence of liquid nicotine poisoning among children nationwide. The letter urges the FDA to require appropriate warning labels on liquid nicotine, nicotine-containing e-liquids and novel tobacco products such as dissolvables, lotions, gels and drinks. The AGs also urge the FDA adopt or establish standards for child-resistant packaging for liquid nicotine and novel tobacco products. The letter was signed by 33 state attorneys general.
“As more and more Americans – especially young people – take up e-cigarettes, it is more important than ever that the FDA ensures our children are protected from the dangers of liquid nicotine,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Child-resistant packaging and health warnings are an essential step to keeping these potentially lethal toxins out of the hands of our children. The FDA must step up and regulate the sale and packaging of these dangerous products before any more kids are harmed.”
According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, in 2014, 3,783 exposures to liquid nicotine nationwide were reported to poison control centers, a sharp increase from previous years. Half of those calls related to poisoning of children under the age of five. In 2014, an eighteen-month-old toddler in upstate New York died from ingesting liquid nicotine.
As the letter states, in recent years “the unchecked growth of the e-cigarette industry has been accompanied by a correspondingly alarming increase in youth use of e-cigarettes…This period of unregulated expansion has corresponded with a rapid escalation in accidental poisonings from exposure to liquid nicotine. Given the apparent growing popularity of “tank”-style vaping devices, which require periodic refilling with liquid nicotine by the consumer and some of which can generate enough heat to create carcinogenic compounds, public health threats from nicotine exposure will increase in the absence of appropriate FDA regulation.”
The letter continues “Clearly, FDA action is warranted: in a recent survey, 87% of adult respondents supported FDA requirements for child-resistant packaging for all e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine refills. In 2014, there were 3,783 reported exposures to liquid nicotine,11 just over half of which involved a child under the age of six.12 As compared to the number of liquid nicotine exposures in 2012, these 2014 figures represent a more than an 800% increase in such exposures. In 2015 (January 1 to June 30), there were 1,732 reported cases of liquid nicotine exposures. Unfortunately, for children, “e-cigarettes now account for roughly 25 percent of nicotine exposures, while in other age groups, ecigarettes exposures have surpassed other tobacco products and account for as many as 65 percent of exposures.”
Liquid nicotine is comprised of nicotine extracted from tobacco plus chemical additives. It is used in electronic cigarettes, which convert the liquid nicotine to a vapor inhaled by the user. According to the latest Surgeon General’s report, nicotine exposure during adolescence adversely affects cognitive function and development, potentially resulting in lasting deficits.
In January of this year, New York passed legislation requiring that liquid nicotine be sold in child-proof packaging; in July, following an investigation, Attorney General Schneiderman announced agreements with four e-liquid manufacturers and retailers whose product was being sold in New York in violation of the new legislation.
The attached letter was signed by attorneys general of the following states, territories and District of Colubmia: Alabama, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Washington, and Wyoming.