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FDA Reveals Plans to Regulate E-Cigarettes

Update Date: Apr 24, 2014 01:52 PM EDT
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Over the past few years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been urged to exercise its authority and start to regulate e-cigarettes. Now, after four years of waiting, the FDA has revealed its plans to oversee the sales of e-cigarettes. In the proposal, the FDA will also address the sales and production of pipe tobacco and cigars.

Based on the draft released on Thursday, the FDA will prohibit the sales of e-cigarettes, cigars and pipe tobacco to minors under the age of 18. Similarly to other age restricted products, customers must provide a legitimate photo identification card with a birthdate on it. Products will be sold with warning labels regarding the addictiveness of nicotine. Companies will not be allowed to give out free samples, which they generally do at huge events, such as music festivals.

Manufacturers of cigars and e-cigarettes will also be required to register with the FDA. By registering with the agency, companies will need to provide a complete list of all ingredients used in the products, a detailed outline about the companies' production process and any scientific data. Scientific data include proving their own claim that e-cigarettes are safer than traditional ones. The FDA will also have the power to inspect these companies for safety purposes.

Even though the FDA has decided to regulate a multi-billion dollar business that has existed for some time with little federal oversight, some critics believe that the agency's proposal is not strict enough. The hundreds of pages long proposal did not include a ban on the kinds of flavors used in e-cigarettes and cigars. Based on studies, researchers found that flavors, such as bubblegum and grape, can be alluring for children and teenagers.

"The FDA's proposal does nothing to [rein] in the wild west marketing of e-cigarettes to kids," Stanton Glantz, head of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco, wrote according to the Wall Street Journal.

Furthermore, the proposal did not ban how e-cigarettes can be marketed and advertised to children. For traditional cigarettes, the FDA does not allow tobacco companies to advertise on television. The new regulations are expected to be enforced within one year.

"If it takes more than a year to finalize this rule, the F.D.A. isn't doing its job," said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, an advocacy group reported by the New York Times.

The FDA's proposal will be available in the Federal Register. There will be a 75-day comment period before the regulations are finalized.

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