Six U.S. Senators are calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take action against e-cigarette manufacturers who are making what th senators say are unsubstantiated claims in their advertising.
Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) say the false claims include unproven assertions that the e-cigs help smokers of conventional cigarettes quit.
In today’s letters, the senators highlighted recent studies demonstrating that claims by e-cigarette manufacturers that their products help people quit smoking are not substantiated by current science.
Potentially false claims
“We urge you to review this evidence and begin to take actions against companies that are making unsubstantiated and potentially false therapeutic claims about products that have not been approved by FDA as safe and effective,” the senators wrote.
In their letter to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, the senators called on the agency to use its existing authority to investigate manufacturers who are making these false or unsubstantiated claims in their advertising.
“The FTC has not stepped in to protect consumers from the health risks posed by nicotine and other chemicals contained in electronic cigarettes,” the senators wrote. “We believe that you can and should act immediately to crack down on these false and deceptive claims by e-cigarette manufacturers.”
Today’s letters to the FTC and FDA follow up on a letter the senators sent to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez in December, urging the FTC to investigate the marketing practices of e-cigarette manufacturers and to pursue enforcement action against companies that make false or misleading health claims in their advertising.
Last month, in response to reports of a dramatic increase in accidental nicotine poisonings among children, Sen. Boxer joined six senators in once again calling on the FDA to move quickly to regulate the rapidly evolving market of e-cigarettes and other nicotine products.
The FDA has been working on new e-cig regulations for years but the senators said the agency already has the authority to "investigate companies making unsubstantiated and potentially false therapeutic claims.”
In February, Sen. Boxer was joined by Senators Durbin, Harkin, Blumenthal, Markey and Brown in introducing the Protecting Children from Electronic Cigarette Advertising Act to prohibit the marketing of e-cigarettes to children and teens. The bill has been endorsed by the American Public Health Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.