On the heels of a report issued last month by the CDC that e-cigarette use among teens has skyrocketed, the FDA has finally moved to regulate them in the same way traditional cigarettes are. This means e-cigarettes are not permitted to be sold to anyone under the age of 18 and adults who are under the age of 26 must show photo identification.
The new regulation goes into effect August 8, 2016.
Previously, the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products only had authority to regulate tobacco cigarettes, roll-your-own cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. Under the new, final rule issued May 5, e-cigarettes (including vape pens), cigars, hookah tobacco, pipe tobacco, nicotine and any future related products come under the Center’s watch.
Prior to the FDA’s action, there was no federal law restricting access to these tobacco and nicotine products to minors.
“As cigarette smoking among those under 18 has fallen, the use of other nicotine products, including e-cigarettes, has taken a drastic leap,” Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said in a statement. “All of this is creating a new generation of Americans who are at risk of addiction.
“Today’s announcement is an important step in the fight for a tobacco-free generation -– 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.”
The new rule means that that the products cannot be sold in vending machines (unless in an adults-only establishment) nor can free samples be given out. In addition, health warnings will need to be put on packaging.
Manufactures of the products will now be subject to a host of new regulations. For example, they will now be required to “show that the products meet the applicable public health standard set forth in the law and receive marketing authorization from the FDA.” They will be allowed to continue selling their merchandise, but will need to submit a new tobacco product application.
Incidentally, last month’s CDC report found that current e-cigarette use among high school students has soared from 1.5% in 2011 to 16% in 2015, while hookah use rose significantly. Last year, 3 million middle and high school students were current e-cigarette users.
Jonathan Block is MedShadow’s content editor. He has previously worked for Psychiatry Advisor, Modern Healthcare, Health Reform Week and The Pink Sheet.