Senator says tobacco companies skirting law

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Replacing 400,000 customers each year is no easy task for any industry, but the tobacco industry is resorting to immoral tactics to do so, according to at least one Ohio senator.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, is calling on the Federal Drug Administration to take action on companies marketing and selling e-cigarettes to youth. For decades, tobacco companies have been prohibited from marketing cigarettes to children, including offering “flavors” that would appeal to them, but Brown said the relatively young e-cigarette industry is not subject to the same regulations, despite the fact the products also contain nictotine.

“In order to replace the more than 400,000 customers it loses each year to tobacco related deaths, Big Tobacco has fought to weaken anti-tobacco laws and market new products to children,” Brown said.

He added e-cigarettes may act as a gateway for youth to eventually begin smoking real cigarettes. E-cigarettes are essentially electronic enhalers meant to serve as a substitute for tobacco smoking. It uses a heating element vaporizes a liquid solution, including nicotine.

According to a recent health survey conducted by the Henry County Department of Health, three percent of youth respondents said they had smoked e-cigarettes in the past year.

Brown pointed out a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites more than 76 percent of children who used an e-cigarette smoked a conventional cigarette within 30 days.

Susan Liss, executive director of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said e-cigarette makers are invoking tactics used years ago by tobacco companies, such as celebrity endorsements and candy flavoring, to attract children to e-cigarettes.

“The jump in e-cigarette use comes as marketing for e-cigarettes has skyrocketed and e-cigarette companies are increasingly using the same tactics long used to market regular cigarettes to kids,” Liss said.

Brown has sent a letter to the FDA asking it to regulate e-cigarettes the same as traditional ones and to prohibit their sale and marketing to children.

He is also asking the Obama administration to reconsider provisions currently included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that would allow tobacco companies to mount trade challenges against efforts that promote public health.

“The administration should do the right thing for the health of the country by exercising its full power to put a stop to Big Tobacco’s crashing through loopholes in trade policy and existing FDA regulations,” Brown said. “America must be a leader in global and domestic public health efforts and stop the insidious creep of addiction, lung cancer, coronary disease and respiratory harm caused by tobacco and nicotine.”

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