E-cigarettes not immune to calls for marketing and package design restrictions

Posted: January 20, 2015 by
Linda Casey

With poisoning calls about e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine growing, a spotlight is being shone on how the products are marketed and packaged. Most recently, Matthew L. Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, is urging the FDA to make a final ruling within months on how the products are packaged.

“The alarming jump in poisoning calls, along with recent surveys showing youth e-cigarette use is on the rise, underscore the urgent need for the Food and Drug Administration to strengthen and finalize its proposed rule to regulate all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes,” Myers says. “More than half the calls involved a child under the age of six. Last month, a one-year-old child in Fort Plain, New York, became the first person in the United States to die accidentally from swallowing nicotine liquid.”

He reports that poisoning incidents involving electronic cigarettes and liquid nicotine jumped by 156% from 2013 to 2014 and have increased more than 14 fold since 2011. Calls to poison control centers involving exposures to e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine increased to 3,957 in 2014 from 1,543 in 2013 and 271 in 2011 (according to the AAPCC, the preliminary 2014 data will be updated as poison centers update their reports).

“The White House must make it a priority to issue a final rule and to do so no later than April 25, 2015—one year after the FDA issued its proposed rule,” Myers remarks. “It is unacceptable that products that can be addictive and toxic are being sold without any federal regulations to stop them from being marketed and sold to kids and without requirements for safety warnings and childproof packaging. The FDA first announced in early 2011 that it planned to regulate e-cigarettes, cigars and other unregulated tobacco products, so these important public health protections are long overdue. How many more kids have to be addicted or poisoned by e-cigarettes before our government acts? Our kids can't wait.”

The controversy surrounding e-cigarette packaging has its particular set of wrinkles, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting e-cigarette use among high school students tripled between 2011 and 2013. But the labeling and marketing controversies affecting both e-cigarettes and traditional tobacco packaging have the potential to restrict on-pack marketing efforts for a variety of products, from snack foods to video games.

What’s your opinion on the calls for stronger labeling laws for nicotine products, and do you believe the CPG categories you work in will be affected?