FDA to Regulate E-Cigarettes, Cigars, and Other Tobacco Products
As of today, all tobacco products will now, finally, fall under the FDA’s regulatory purview. That means e-cigarettes, premium cigars, hookah, and pipes will be subject to the same oversight as cigarettes, in an effort to curtail tobacco use nationwide.
The FDA’s decision will create a federal law prohibiting the sale of assorted tobacco products to minors. That part of the ruling won’t affect Massachusetts, where sales to minors were already illegal and legislation is pushing the tobacco buying age up to 21.
Under the FDA’s regulation, manufacturers whose products went on sale after 2007 will also have to meet certain public health standards—which could be tricky, since a 2015 Harvard study found that most flavored e-cigarettes contain a chemical that can cause the disease Popcorn Lung; many other health risks have also been alleged. Advertisements and packaging will also be required to include a health warning.
According to a statement from Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, the move was largely motivated by the number of minors using e-cigarettes. “Today’s announcement is an important step in the fight for a tobacco-free generation,” she said. “It will help us catch up with changes in the marketplace, put into place rules that protect our kids and give adults information they need to make informed decisions.”
Indeed, a 2015 report from the CDC found that e-cigarette use among middle and high school students tripled from 2013 to 2014, growing more popular than traditional cigarettes. Another report found that 13 percent of adults had tried e-cigarettes as of 2014, and that number has almost surely risen in the years following.
“At the FDA, we must do our job under the Tobacco Control Act to reduce the harms caused by tobacco,” FDA Commissioner Robert Cahill said in the statement. “That includes ensuring consumers have the information they need to make informed decisions about tobacco use and making sure that new tobacco products for purchase come under comprehensive FDA review.”