On May 5, the FDA made new rules to federally regulate e-cigarettes. The process has been a long one for organizations like CADCA and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which have been waiting years for the FDA to impose specific protocols on the essentially unregulated multibillion-dollar business that is ENDS (Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems or e-cigarettes).
“The process has started, and it has been incredibly difficult,” stated Matthew Myers, the president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. He added, “This gives the FDA the authority right away to prohibit some of the most outrageous marketing claims. It imposes nationwide rules that makes it illegal to sell to kids under 18 with real enforcement authority.”
The 499-page document would significantly impact the booming tobacco industry and its 40 million smokers. The new regulations, which will go into effect in 90 days, include banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and force buyers to show photo ID, which are measures that some states have already implemented. The new regulations would also apply to cigars and hookah.
Possibly the most significant change will be requiring ENDS and cigar producers to register with the FDA, therefore providing details on their products’ ingredients, manufacturing methods, and scientific data. Additionally, producers would have to accept periodic FDA inspections and would not be allowed to market products as “mild” or “light” unless given permission by the FDA. Finally, tobacco companies will be prohibited from offering free samples of their products.
Despite this progress in protecting youth from the e-cigarettes that they may perceive as harmless, some are still concerned about the variety of flavors, which still appeal heavily to young people. Mr. Myers stated, “The concern is for at least three years, flavored e-cigarette products will remain on the market no matter how many kids are using them.” The FDA may limit flavors in the future, but it depends on how the agency interprets the new rulings.