Last week the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a 241-page proposal that would for the first time impose federal regulations on the use of battery-powered electronic cigarettes — a booming industry that is seen by many as a healthy alternative to conventional cigarettes because vapor is used instead of smoke, which is linked to lung cancer. The rules also cover currently unregulated tobacco products such as cigars, pipe tobacco and hookahs. The regulations would ban sales to minors under 18, and they require producers of cigars and e-cigarettes to register with the FDA and submit ingredients, manufacturing processes and scientific data to the agency.

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Some consumer groups criticized the rules for not going far enough because they don’t ban flavored tobacco, Internet sales or TV ads. However the FDA said that the proposed rules are a foundation that could later lead to further regulations such as banning flavors like bubble gum and grape that public health experts warn are enticing to children and young adults. Others are concerned that the rules could stifle innovation and crowd out smaller e-cigarette companies in favor of Big Tobacco.

But overall the e-cigarette industry seemed pleased that the FDA struck the right balance. Jason Healy, president of blu eCigs, praised the FDA’s “science-based” approach, saying he likes “the overall tone” of the proposal. Other proposed regulations include banning free samples and mandating warning labels stating that e-cigarettes expose users to nicotine, which is addictive.

According to the Center for Disease Control, cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States and more than 16 million Americans suffer from a smoking-related disease.

+ FDA: Extending Authorities to Additional Tobacco Products

Via NY Times

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