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Public Interest Law Professor John Banzhaf

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Prof. Banzhaf Claims FDA’s E-Cigarette Rules Have Major Omissions; “Candy Cigarettes on Steroids” May Continue to Endanger Health, He Claims

Although the Food and Drug Administration [FDA] has itself reported that e-cigarettes pose “acute health risks” which “cannot seriously be questioned” because they contain “toxic chemicals,” and that the devices also “present a serious risk of addicting new users, including children,” the rules they have proposed to regulate them have major omissions, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf.

Washington, DC, April 26, 2014 --( The rules as just reported would ban the sale of cigarettes to minors but, because their sale over the Internet would not be restricted, the product is likely to still be easily available to children, just as cigarettes were before additional steps were taken, says Banzhaf, the "Man Behind the Ban on Cigarette Commercials."

The FDA rules would require health warnings, but the agency itself has conceded that there is no proof that even much tougher graphic health warnings have any significant impact, notes Banzhaf, who has been called the "Ralph Nader of the Tobacco Industry," "One of the Most Vocal and Effective Anti-Tobacco Attorneys," and "The Law Professor Who Masterminded Litigation Against the Tobacco Industry."

Although flavorings like bubble gum, grape soda, and pina colada were banned in cigarettes because Congress concluded that they attract young users, the FDA would permit these same flavors to continue to be used in e-cigarettes.

The agency itself has said that e-cigarette users suffer from a wide variety of potentially serious symptoms "including racing pulse, dizziness, slurred speech, mouth ulcers, heartburn, coughing, diarrhea, and sore throat," and that nicotine [one of the two major chemicals used in and emitted by the product] in high doses can be dangerous and even fatal."

Very recently, after the agency has conducted more scientific study, it published new warnings, in a major publication, noting that "fatalities related to accidental exposure and misuse have occurred," "e-cigarette aerosols may include harmful and potentially harmful constituents," "e-cigarettes present risks of unintentional nicotine exposure and are potential choking hazards," "labeling was inadequate or misleading," and that "battery explosions and the risks of exposure to the e-liquid (especially for children) are also concerns."

Despite the latter concern - that children are licking or even touching the liquids in the nicotine cartridges used in e-cigarettes, the rules will not require the same kind of child-proofing protections now widely used even for common products like aspirin, argues Banzhaf.

The FDA also warned that e-cigarette refill solutions contain varying levels of nicotine (often different from the amount shown on the label), as well a cancer-causing tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs), aldehydes, metals, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), Phenolic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and drugs. "Aerosolised propylene glycol [one of the chemicals they contain] and glycerol produce mouth and throat irritation and dry cough," the agency reports.

The scientific and medical agency also raised concerns about the adverse impact of the new product on the environment, reporting that “a 2010 survey of six e-cigarette models found that none of the products provided disposal instructions for spent cartridges containing nicotine.”

Ironically, the agency pointed out, “some e-cigarette manufacturers claim their e-cigarettes are ‘eco-friendly’ or ‘green’, despite the lack of any supporting data or environmental impact studies. Some authors argue that such advertising may boost sales and increase e-cigarette appeal, especially among adolescents” - for whom they may serve as a kind of “candy cigarettes on steroids,” says Banzhaf.
Contact Information
George Washington University Law School
Public Interest Law Professor John Banzhaf
202 994-7229 // 703 527-8418

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