New rules for the e-cigarette industry, largely unregulated, came out on Thursday. Sales will be banned to minors under 18, prohibit vending machine sales, packages will require warning labels, and all products must be approved by the FDA.
This product approval process will take three years. The first two years, manufacturers can continue to sell their product while submitting an application to the FDA. The third year they can sell during the FDA’s review.
Small vape shops, device manufacturers, and liquid nicotine producers are worried about the price tag for the approval process, which ranges from $2 to $10 million per item. These business may not continue operating or hiring employees. The Altria tobacco company is also concerned about the approval requirements for products.
Starting in June, warning labels and child-proof packaging will be required because of increased nicotine exposure and poisoning incidents in young people. The FDA is concerned by the alluring flavors that youth find enticing. E-cig use has tripled among U.S. teens in 2014, and some are using these devices as a stepping stone to traditional cigarettes.
E-cigarettes, which heat liquid nicotine into a vapor, have proven to help smokers kick the habit. Researchers agree that e-cigs are less harmful because they don’t burn, and the burning is what releases over 60 carcinogens. The long-term effects of using the devices are not known.
The FDA has been regulating cigarettes since 2009. They will now have authority over cigars, pipe tobacco, and water-pipe tobacco, in addition to the e-cigs. The HHS Secretary believes this is an important step toward a tobacco-free generation. A Wells Fargo tobacco analyst says the rule will stifle innovation, slow industry growth, and discourage those who want to switch to e-cigarettes.
Mickle, Tripp. “FDA to Regulate E-Cigarettes, Ban Sales to Minors.” Business. The Wall Street Journal, 5 May 2016. Web. 9 May 2016.