As the vaping community rapidly grows, along with e-cigarette devices with increasingly powerful batteries and endless flavors, so do calls from public health advocates for federal oversight of the market. Some groups are urging the Food & Drug Administration to subject e-cigarettes to the same regulations as traditional cigarettes, including requiring health warnings on packages and prohibiting e-cigarettes from being sold to minors. Others are also calling for FDA to ban candy and other kid-friendly flavors.
FDA currently regulates only those e-cigarettes, e-juices, and other vaping supplies that make therapeutic claims. FDA proposed a rule last April, however, that would allow the agency to begin regulating e-cigarettes as tobacco products. The agency expects to finalize that rule later this year. In the meantime, various state and local governments are putting some restrictions on the sale and use of e-cigarettes in their jurisdictions, creating confusion and uncertainty for the industry.
Under FDA’s proposed rule, e-cigarette companies would have to register with the agency. In addition, manufacturers would have to file applications for all e-cigarettes marketed after Feb. 15, 2007, along with data about their potential health risks. That date was set by the Family Smoking Prevention & Tobacco Control Act, enacted in 2009, which gave FDA the authority to regulate tobacco products. Traditional cigarettes were already on the market in 2007, so they are “grandfathered” or exempt from being subject to the same requirements as new tobacco products. Very few e-cigarettes were on the market at that time—they were invented in China in 2003 but only began hitting the U.S. market around 2006 or 2007.
The proposal would also prohibit sales of e-cigarettes to minors and require health warnings and disclosure of ingredients.