On August 4, 2014, thirteen Members of Congress signed a letter calling on the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) to expand the regulations on e-cigarettes to include more stringent rules regarding alleged youth exposure to the products.  The signatories state: “While FDA’s proposed rule sets the stage for future regulations, strong regulatory actions on marketing to children, e-cigarette flavors, and online sales cannot wait. FDA has an existing mechanism to protect children now—without waiting years to implement new regulations to accomplish these goals.”

In April 2014, many of the same Members of Congress released a report titled “Gateway to Addiction? A Survey of Popular Electronic Cigarette Manufacturers and Marketing to Youth,” which detailed instances of asserted youth-oriented e-cigarette marketing, including sample distribution at festivals and other events with a large youth base, as well as large amounts of funding going to advertisements in social media and television.

In their current format, the FDA’s deeming regulations would prohibit sales to minors and sales via vending machines, as well as eliminating free samples. In addition, an ingredient listing would be required for each product.  The letter calls for the following additional restrictions to be placed on e-cigarettes:

·         A ban on marketing to children in both television and print advertisements;

·         A ban on the use of flavorings, citing examples such as “Kool-Aid” and “Jolly Rancher” that are allegedly “meant to attract children;” and

·         A ban on online sales, as age verification is purportedly difficult to perform accurately for online purchases.

With the comment period having closed on August 8, 2014, it remains to be seen what form the FDA’s regulations will take once public opinion has been weighed.

To read the full text of the letter, click here.

For questions and/or comments, please contact Bryan Haynes, Troutman Sanders tobacco practice partner, at 804.697.1420 or by email.