TIME health

Lawmakers to E-Cig Makers: Stop Preying on Minors!

Top US Tobacco Companies Enter E-Cigarette Market
A patron enjoys an electronic cigarette at the Vapor Shark store in Miami on Feb. 20, 2014 Joe Raedle—Getty Images

In a 43-page report, a group of congressional Democrats led by Dick Durbin of Illinois stressed the need for federal regulation of e-cigarettes, citing marketing efforts aimed at minors and a need for more information on health risks for consumers

In a report published on Monday, 11 Congress members recommended federal regulations on e-cigarettes that would include banning sales to anyone under 18, halting TV and radio ads, and educating the general public about the risks associated with inhaling nicotine vapors.

The Gateway to Addiction report written by the lawmakers’ staff after surveying e-cig makers finds e-cigarette companies are using marketing tactics that appeal to young people, such as handing out samples at events like music festivals, social-media promotion and offering kid-friendly flavors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate 1.78 million children and teens tried e-cigarettes in 2012.

“E-cigarette makers are starting to prey on kids, just like big tobacco companies,” said Congressman Henry Waxman, a Democrat from California. “With over a million youth now using e-cigarettes, FDA needs to act without further delay to stop companies from marketing their addictive products to children.”

Though use is up, the Food and Drug Administration has not fully studied the products — according to its website consumers are not aware of the risks of use, the amount of nicotine or other chemicals being inhaled and whether or not there are benefits to smoking e-cigarettes. A New York Times report from March detailed the potential dangers of the liquid nicotine found in electronic cigarettes, including vomiting, seizures and death.

According to the report, six of the surveyed e-cigarette companies support some regulation.

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