Published Date: 05/05/2014
By Reneé Watkins
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants to put similar regulations on e-cigarettes as are already in place for the tobacco products they are intended to replace. Banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, health warning labels and required approval for new products are among the regulations this agency is proposing.
Although the entire proposal was issued earlier this month, any approved regulations will not immediately take effect. This first step will lay the ground work for putting some constraint on a very fast-growing industry that is currently sweeping the nation.
For example, the proposed regulations will set age limits on the purchase of these products, but will not immediately address the wide variety of flavors or marketing mediums used to appeal to a larger group of consumers. Other changes would require warning labels regarding the dangers of nicotine and prohibit companies from advertising e-cigarettes as “safer” than other cigarettes. According to the FDA, more data regarding any potential health risks and/or benefits to these products will be needed to justify further regulations. Once this additional data is collected, the agency may propose more restrictions.
Many public health organizations have expressed concern over the use of e-cigarettes. While marketing efforts are depicting these products as a “healthy alternative” to cigarettes made with tobacco, very little is being said regarding health risks relating to the use of these alternatives.
The public and the e-cigarette industry will have 75 days to comment on and provide their feedback on the FDA’s proposal. The FDA will take any comments and concerns under consideration before issuing a final set of initial regulations.
E-cigarettes produce a vapor by heating liquid nicotine, which users can inhale, making them very similar to actual cigarettes. The vapor from e-cigarettes does not contain the chemicals and other impurities found in tobacco products. However, the vapor is produced by liquid nicotine, a substance that can be fatal in its raw form and is thought to be habit-forming.
Those in favor of e-cigarettes feel this line of products will assist people in their efforts to quit smoking tobacco products. Others feel these products will serve to encourage a new generation of smokers, drawn to a less harmful product.
So far, there appears to be more questions than answers in regard to the long-term safety of e-cigarettes and how to regulate their manufacture, marketing and use.