November 1, 2014
FDA proposes to ban e-cigarettes to minors
The US Food and Drug Administration proposed rules that would ban the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under 18, a proposal that would subject the $2 billion industry to federal regulation for the first time.
The long waited proposal would not restrict flavored products, online sales or advertising though, which public health advocates say attract children.
FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said at a briefing that the proposal represented the first "foundational" step towards broader restrictions if scientific evidence shows they are needed to protect public health.
Critics of e-cigarette advertising say it risks introducing a new generation of young people to conventional cigarettes when little is known about the long-term health impact of the products. And they lamented the fact that limits were not included in the proposed rule.
A law passed in 2009 gave the FDA authority to regulate cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and roll-your-own tobacco and stipulated the agency could extend its jurisdiction to other nicotine products after issuing a rule to that effect. E-cigarettes use battery-powered cartridges to produce a nicotine-laced inhalable vapor.
In the short term, the rule would prohibit companies from distributing free e-cigarette samples, forbid vending machine sales except in adult-only venues and prohibit sales to minors. Companies would be required to warn that nicotine is addictive, but no other health warnings would be required. The addiction warning would have to be added no later than two years after the rule is set. The companies would not be allowed to make health claims in any advertising.