FDA Plans to Regulate E-Cigarettes

FDA Plans to Regulate E-Cigarettes Photo: Jakemaheu via Wikimedia Commons.

Consumers, the tobacco industry and advocates can now comment on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s plan to expand its regulation of tobacco products to include electronic cigarettes.

The FDA would deem electronic cigarettes, e-cigarette liquid, cigars, pipe tobacco, gels and waterpipe tobacco subject to its regulatory authority. The only exception would be accessories to tobacco products like humidors, hookah tongs, lighters and charcoal burners.

“Some had advanced views that certain new tobacco products that are noncombustible (such as e-cigarettes) may be less hazardous than combustible products given the carcinogens in smoke and the dangers of secondhand smoke from combustible products,” federal regulators said. “Accordingly, FDA is seeking comment in this proposed rule as to how e-cigarettes should be regulated based on the continuum of nicotine-delivering products.”

The agency also expressed concern about e-cigarettes and cigars being marketed with flavors as attractive to kids and teenagers and asked for research on the long-term influence of flavored tobacco products on people starting smoking.

The FDA wants age restrictions for e-cigarettes and other products just as there are for cigarettes.

“The available data on the addictiveness of nicotine suggests the adolescent brain is more vulnerable to developing nicotine dependence than the adult brain, that exposure to substances such as nicotine can disrupt brain development and have long-term consequences on executive cognitive function and on the risk of developing a substance abuse disorder and various mental health problems as an adult,” the agency said.

The FDA was immediately authorized to regulate cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and rolled tobacco under the Tobacco Control Act, and the agency has the authority to bring other tobacco products under its regulatory authority, according to the proposed rule.

The FDA said it could envision nicotine patches that are not marketed for therapeutic purposes being considered tobacco products.

Amaris Elliott-Engel contributes to law.com.

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