The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced new rules on Thursday that would allow the agency to regulate e-cigarettes, The New York Times reports. 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.
Until now, there has been almost no federal oversight of e-cigarettes, the article notes. A number of states have started making their own decisions about regulating e-cigarettes as they awaited the FDA rules about the devices. The new FDA rules would require people buying e-cigarettes to show photo identification to prove their age. Many states already have instituted this requirement.
Federal officials said it will take at least another year for the proposed rules to take effect. The new regulations are open to public comment for 75 days. After that, the FDA will make final changes, which could take months. If e-cigarette companies sue to block the new regulations, the delay could be much longer. Affected industries are sure to lobby against the rules, the newspaper notes.