The Food and Drug Administration's decision Thursday to regulate e-cigarettes has prompted Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) to renew her call for restricting ads for those smokeless nicotine-delivery systems.
"Now it is time for the federal government to follow California's lead and ban the outrageous marketing of e-cigarettes to children," she said this week.
"Yes, Senator Boxer has expressed concerns about the outrageous marketing of e-cigarettes to kids," said a Boxer spokesperson, who said she is "urging the Administration/FTC to ban marketing aimed at children and teens."
Following the FDA decision, Boxer sent a thank you letter to FDA commissioner Dr. Robert Califf and at the same time called on the Federal Trade Commission to impose an ad ban.
Boxer has long pushed for restrictions on e-cigarette ads, including introducing the Protecting Children from Electronic Cigarette Advertising Act, which would allow the FTC to determine what constitutes marketing the devices to children and work with state's attorneys general to enforce a ban.
Former Senate Commerce Committee chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) put a spotlight on e-cigarette marketing, with Boxer strongly sharing his concern.
Following his retirement, Sen. Boxer picked up the gauntlet.
She was particularly incensed at that hearing by e-cigarette flavors like cotton candy, gummy bears, Captain Crunch and Bazooka Joe and ads that appeared to feature Smurfs toking on the e-cigarettes, which are smokeless liquid nicotine-delivery systems.
The issue did not get traction in the Republican-led Senate. Now Commerce chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) in a 2014 hearing pointed out that e-cigarettes have no tar and may be helpful to the extent that they reduce consumption of combustible tobacco. He suggested it was an emerging technology that people needed to have an open mind about as a nicotine replacement therapy, an argument e-cigarette makers have often made.
In December, a group of Democratic senators including Boxer and led by veteran children's advocate Ed Markey (D-Mass.) called on FTC chair Edith Ramirez to investigate liquid nicotine retailers for unfair and deceptive practices.