The Oregon Department of Justice today filed two settlements that prevent two national travel store chains from selling “electronic cigarettes” in Oregon. The action is the first of its kind in the country and prevents Oregonians from buying potentially dangerous products that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to approve.
The affected travel store chains, Pilot Travel Centers, which has seven centers in Oregon, and TA Operating, which has four centers in Oregon, both sell “NJOY” brand electronic cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes are actually battery operated nicotine delivery devices constructed to mimic conventional cigarette. Each “cigarette” consists of a heating element and a replaceable plastic cartridge that contains various chemicals, including various concentrations of liquid nicotine. The heating element vaporizes the liquid, which the user inhales as if it were smoke.
Despite FDA issued “Import Alerts” against NJOY and other brands of electronic cigarettes, and despite the fact that the U.S. Customs Service detained several shipments of these devices, sales of electronic cigarettes continue throughout the United States. Sales persisted even though just last week the FDA warned the public about health concerns regarding electronic cigarettes. FDA tests showed a wide variation in the amount of nicotine delivered by three different samples of nicotine cartridges with the same label. Tests also revealed the presence of nitrosamines – a known carcinogen. By the time the FDA issued its warnings, the Oregon Department of Justice had already launched an active investigation of the sale and promotion of electronic cigarettes. NJOY electronic cigarettes were a target of that investigation.