BOSTON — Forty attorneys general sent a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration today urging the agency to meet its own deadline and regulate electronic cigarettes in the same way it regulates tobacco products.

BOSTON — Forty attorneys general sent a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration today urging the agency to meet its own deadline and regulate electronic cigarettes in the same way it regulates tobacco products.

The letter, co-sponsored by Massachusetts Attorney Martha Coakley and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, says e-cigarettes are being marketed to children through cartoon-like advertising characters and by offering fruit and candy flavors, much like cigarettes were once marketed to hook new smokers.

At the same time, e-cigarettes are becoming more affordable and more widely available as the use of regular cigarettes decline as they become more expensive and less socially acceptable.

"Unlike traditional tobacco products, there are no federal age restrictions that would prevent children from obtaining e-cigarettes, nor are there any advertising restrictions," DeWine wrote.

Electronic cigarettes are metal or plastic battery-powered devices resembling traditional cigarettes that heat a liquid nicotine solution, creating vapor that users inhale. Users get nicotine without the chemicals, tar or odor of regular cigarettes.

The letter urges the FDA to meet an Oct. 31 deadline to issue proposed regulations that will address the advertising, ingredients and sale to minors of e-cigarettes. The decision has been delayed in the past.

Tom Kiklas, co-founder and chief financial officer of the industry group, the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, agrees that e-cigarettes should be regulated as tobacco products. The group represents dozens of companies involved in the manufacture and sales of e-cigarettes.

The other states and territories joining the letter to the FDA, according to Coakley's office, are: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Washington, and Wyoming.

— Associated Press