WASHINGTON -- The Food and Drug Administration released proposed rules on April 25 that call for strict regulation of electronic cigarettes and other tobacco products, including restricting sales through vending machines.
Currently, the FDA only has regulatory authority over cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and roll-your-own tobacco. Its oversight would extend to water pipe tobacco and hookahs under the proposed rules, as well as cigars, pipe tobacco and nicotine gels.
Under the proposed regulations, e-cigarettes would be off-limits to consumers under the age of 18, and they would only be allowed for sale through vending machines in adult-only facilities, which mirror the rules for conventional cigarettes. | SEE STORY
Health warnings would also be required, initially alerting e-cigarettes users about the potential for addiction to nicotine.
Makers of e-cigarettes and other newly regulated tobacco commodities would have to register all their products, and the ingredients in them, with the FDA. They would be required to provide scientific evidence before making any claims of risk reduction associated with their products and would no longer be allowed to give out free samples.
E-cigarettes look like traditional cigarettes, but are battery-powered devices that heat liquid nicotine to form vapor that's inhaled. Supporters say they help smokers kick the habit and contain fewer harmful chemicals than traditional cigarettes.
The FDA says that since they have not been fully studied, it's unknown what health risks they pose, and how much nicotine or other chemicals are actually being inhaled.
"Tobacco remains the leading cause of death and disease in this country," said FDA commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg. "This is an important moment for consumer protection and a significant proposal that, if finalized as written, would bring FDA oversight to many new tobacco products. Science-based product regulation is a powerful form of consumer protection that can help reduce the public health burden of tobacco use on the American public, including youth."
The proposed rules are subject to a 75-day comment period. Once they are finalized, manufacturers will have 24 months to submit applications to allow their products to remain on the market, or to submit new product applications.