WASHINGTON — An e-cigarette industry association on Monday endorsed a Senate bill that would require childproof packaging for liquid nicotine used in their devices.
The American Vaping Association, which represents independent manufacturers of e-cigarettes, issued a press statement Monday saying it supports “common-sense laws” that create safer products aimed at reducing tobacco-related disease and death.
Eleven Senate Democrats — including Mark Pryor of Arkansas — introduced legislation last week that would require childproof packaging. Pryor first expressed concerns about the issue in April after learning that at least one Arkansas child had been hospitalized after ingesting a liquid nicotine vial.
At the time, Pryor had urged the industry to adopt voluntary packaging standards to safeguard children from being exposed to potentially lethal doses of nicotine contained in the small refill vials.
The American Association of Poison Control Centers said there have been more than 1,500 calls regarding liquid nicotine exposure so far this year — a pace that will double last year’s total.
“I have been working with industry on solutions, and was hopeful they would step up on their own. However, we are seeing more and more children poisoned and even sent to the emergency room as a result of liquid nicotine. We can’t afford to keep waiting,” Pryor said.
The industry association also said it would support a federal ban on the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. A step that has already been taken by 28 states — including Arkansas — have passed laws prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.
“E-cigarettes help smokers quit the tobacco habit, but they aren’t for children,” said Gregory Conley, AVA president.
California also requires a warning label that the product contains chemicals known to cause cancer and birth defects. Arkansas, Utah, North Dakota and New Jersey have also included e-cigarettes in indoor smoking bans.
The industry support for childproof packaging comes as the Food and Drug Administration considers so-called “deeming” rules that would classify e-cigarettes as tobacco products.
The association is opposed to the rule saying it would unnecessarily subject the industry to complicated and expensive regulation that would hurt independent manufacturers and essentially cede the e-cigarette business to major tobacco corporations.
If adopted, the “deeming” rule would limit sales of e-cigarettes on Internet websites and through vending machines open to children. It could also lead to further restrictions on candy flavorings that some critics say are part of a marketing strategy aimed at youth.
FDA said it is looking for additional research on the long-term effects of flavored tobacco product usage. In particular, they are concerned that young people who use these products may turn to more traditional tobacco products.