Sen. Ron Wyden requested Monday that the U.S. International Trade Commission begin collecting data on the import of electronic cigarettes, calling it a multi-billion dollar market that “we know very little about.”
In a letter to trade commission Chair Meredith Broadbent, Wyden, D-Ore., the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, urged the government to start collecting data on-cigarettes imports following a Government Accountability Office report released earlier that states the product’s import volume and tariff revenue levels are unknown.
“E-cigarettes represent a fast-growing, multi-billion dollar market and yet we know very little about how much is coming into our country, who is manufacturing the product, or the ultimate public health implications of these unregulated products,” Wyden said in a statement. “With use among middle and high school students tripling in the past year alone, it’s time we collect baseline information on e-cigarette imports that will help us most effectively consider and propose regulatory options.”
The GAO report said the federal government currently doesn’t collect data on e-cigarette sales, number of manufacturers and importers, or the types of products sold. Based on interviews with industry experts, the report estimated that $2.5 billion worth of e-cigarettes were sold in the U.S. in 2014.
“Some estimates from industry experts we interviewed suggest that up to 90 percent of e-cigarette devices and closed-system e-cigarettes are imported from China,” the report said. “In addition, industry experts and researchers estimated that most e-cigarette liquid on the U.S. market is either imported or mixed in the United States with at least some ingredients from other countries such as China, France, India and Switzerland.”