Electronic cigarette companies meeting resistance

Electronic cigarette simulators, a high-tech spin on nicotine delivery, are continuing to meet resistance from states -- particularly Oregon -- concerned the contraptions are unhealthy and could be attractive to teens.

Oregon's attorney general recently announced a settlement with Florida-based Smoking Everywhere, Inc. and its president, Elico Taieb, prohibiting the sale or distribution of electronic cigarettes in Oregon.Oregon was also the first state to sue an electronic cigarette company when it filed a case against Smoking Everywhere in August 2009. During the past year, California and Florida have also taken legal action against the company.

Electronic cigarettes are battery-operated devices that simulate the look and feel of a regular cigarette. But instead of smoke, they emit a vapor from a replaceable plastic cartridge that contains several chemicals, including liquid nicotine. They're sold in shopping malls and online but have not been approved by the FDA.

Prior to this settlement, Oregon had stopped two national travel store chains -- Pilot Travel Centers and TA Operating -- from selling electronic cigarettes in the state. It also settled with Sottera, Inc., another e-cigarette distributor, prohibiting it from doing business until local and national standards are met. Last week, California's attorney general also announced a settlement with Sottera, preventing it from targeting minors with its claims that the cigarettes are a safe alternative to smoking.

Kate Medema, a spokeswoman for Oregon's attorney general, told Consumer Ally the e-cigarettes haven't been banned in her state but won't be allowed until Smoking Everywhere complies with state and federal consumer protection and public health laws.

The company touts itself as "eco-friendly" on its website and that its cigarettes as "green." The company also claims the cigarettes do not contain tobacco, tar, smoke or other chemicals found in the traditional cigarette.

The FDA and other health experts, however, have warned consumers that these products could potentially be harmful to their health. In laboratory tests conducted last summer, the FDA found the products contain ingredients such as diethylene glycol, a chemical used in antifreeze and known to be toxic to humans.

The agency also said e-cigarettes could increase nicotine addiction among youth and encourage them to try other tobacco products.

In his statement, Oregon Attorney General John Kroger said the settlement would help protect teens from unsafe products.

The FDA is currently in litigation over regulation of these products, Siobhan DeLancey, an FDA spokesperson, told Consumer Ally. Smoking Everywhere and Sottera, the national distributor of NJOY, filed the case against the FDA. Smoking Everywhere, however, has since withdrawn.

Attempts to reach someone at Smoking Everywhere were unsuccessful and an email with questions sent to the company has not been answered.

Under the agreement, Smoking Everywhere admits that it violated Oregon's Unlawful Trade Practices Act. It has to pay Oregon's Department of Justice $95,000 and is permanently barred from doing business in the state. Taieb must pay $25,000 and is also prohibited from doing business related to e-cigarettes, nicotine or tobacco products in Oregon.
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