This spring, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed restrictions on e-cigarettes. The regulations would include a ban on the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, free product samples, and some e-cigarette vending machines. Notably missing from the proposed rule are critical restrictions on the marketing of e-cigarettes to kids.

Liquid nicotine is sold in popular childhood flavors like bubblegum and cotton candy. The flavors entice young smokers into nicotine addiction, and there is another dangerous consequence.Just a teaspoon of this candy-flavored poison can kill a small child. Poisonings can occur from ingestion, and even absorption through the skin. Reports to poison control centers of accidental poisonings from liquid nicotine, most in children under the age of 5, have increased 200 percent. Yet the FDA would not restrict use of these flavors in e-cigarettes.

In response to FDA’s proposed regulations falling short of preventing the marketing of e-cigarette to children and use of flavors, various pieces of legislation are being introduced to fill these gaps.

Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) introduced the Stop Selling and Marketing to Our Kids E-Cigarettes Act (H.R. 5010), or the SMOKE Act. The SMOKE Act would:

  • Extend the authority of the FDA and U.S. Federal Trade Commission in regulating e-cigarette advertising to kids
  • Require child-proof packaging standards
  • Direct the FDA to research the impact of flavored liquid nicotine on smoking cessation for adults and smoking appeal/adoption for children, and consider prohibitions
  • Require liquid nicotine dosage requirements of flavored liquid nicotine based on the findings

And Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) has introduced the Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act of 2014. Like Rep. Speier’s legislation, the bill would protect children from accidental poisonings by requiring bottles of liquid nicotine be childproof.

In recent years, the use of electronic cigarettes among children has risen dramatically. According to a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released in 2013,the percent U.S. high school students who reported ever using e-cigarettes more than doubled from 2011 to 2012. Legislation like this could help to keep our children smoke-free.