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E-Cigarette Standards Will Protect Public Health: FDA Tobacco Chief

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young woman smoking electronic cigarette outdoor office building

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will develop e-cigarette policies that will protect public health, the head of the agency’s Center for Tobacco Products said Wednesday. The FDA is considering product standards in the areas of addiction, toxicity and product appeal, Reuters reports.

The new standards will be designed to withstand legal challenges, Mitchell Zeller told participants at a meeting organized by the anti-tobacco group Legacy.

In April, the FDA announced new rules that would allow the agency to regulate e-cigarettes. The proposed rules would ban the sale of e-cigarettes, cigars and pipe tobacco to anyone under age 18.

Manufacturers of e-cigarettes and cigars would have to register with the FDA, give the agency a detailed account of the products’ ingredients, describe their manufacturing process and scientific data, and submit to FDA inspections. Companies would no longer be allowed to offer free samples. E-cigarettes would be required to come with warning labels stating they contain nicotine, which is addictive. Vending machines in public places where minors are allowed could not carry e-cigarettes. The rules also ban online sales of e-cigarettes and cigars to minors.

The proposed rules do not ban flavors in e-cigarettes and cigars. Public health advocates say these flavors entice children to try the products. The rules also do not ban marketing of e-cigarettes, which public health advocates had called for. The FDA said further regulations will be needed to address flavoring and marketing.

“We share the concerns about the marketing of e-cigarettes to kids,” Zeller said. “We share the concerns that flavors certainly look like they would be appealing to kids; but let’s not lose sight of the bigger picture here–tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease principally because of the ongoing use of products that burn tobacco.”

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