Durbin Commends House Members for Joining Effort to Protect Children from E-Cigarettes

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today commended six members of the House of Representatives, including U.S. Representatives Cheri Bustos (D-IL) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), for introducing the Protecting Children from Electronic Cigarette Advertising Act to prohibit the marketing of e-cigarettes to children and teens. Durbin joined U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) introducing a companion measure in the Senate last month. More information on the Senate introduction of the Protecting Children from Electronic Cigarette Advertising Act is available here.

“I am proud to be joined by my Illinois colleagues, Congresswomen Cheri Bustos and Jan Schakowsky, and other members of the House in taking action to help prevent a new generation of young Americans from walking down the dangerous path towards nicotine addiction,” Durbin said. “E-cigarette makers are adopting the deplorable marketing tactics once used by tobacco companies to entice children and teenagers into using their addictive product. Members in the House and Senate agree: it’s time to stop manufacturers of these candy-flavored poisons from targeting our children.”

Despite claims from some e-cigarette makers that they do not market their products to children, e-cigarette manufacturers have adopted marketing practices similar to those long used by the tobacco industry to market regular cigarettes to youth – including flavoring their products in candy or fruit flavors that appeal to children, and sponsoring youth-oriented concerts and sporting events in order to market their products to teens.

The Protecting Children from Electronic Cigarette Advertising Act would permit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to determine what constitutes marketing e-cigarettes to children, and would allow the FTC to work with states attorneys general to enforce the ban.

On Monday, in light of mounting evidence that the emerging market of new nicotine delivery products poses serious public health and consumer protection issues, Durbin was joined by six other Senators in calling on the on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to move quickly to regulate the rapidly evolving market of e-cigarettes and other nicotine products. The call followed a New York Times report that found a dramatic increase in accidental nicotine poisonings, notably among children. A copy of the Senators’ letter to the FDA is available here.


Electronic cigarettes, also called e-cigarettes and e-cigs, are battery-operated products that simulate traditional cigarettes by converting cartridges of liquid typically filled with addictive nicotine, other additives, and flavorings into vapor inhaled by the user. Currently, e-cigarettes, nicotine liquids, and nicotine dissolvable products are not subject to federal laws and regulations that apply to traditional cigarettes, including a ban on marketing to youth. Unlike traditional tobacco products, these nicotine products can be legally sold to children and are not subject to federal age verification laws.


According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, 1.8 million middle and high school students said they tried e-cigarettes in 2012, and a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the percentage of high school students who had tried them had more than doubled in just one year – indicating that e-cigarette companies could be targeting youth through advertisements. More than 76 percent of those users said they also smoked conventional cigarettes, suggesting that for many young people, e-cigarettes could be a gateway to nicotine addiction and smoking of conventional cigarettes.


In December, Senators Durbin, Boxer, Blumenthal, Harkin, Markey, and U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sent a letter urging the FTC to investigate the marketing practices of e-cigarette manufacturers.