Electronic cigarettes are very popular products and they have sparked a very fierce debate in the Senate between politicians, manufacturers, users and opponents. As there a conclusion is yet to be drawn, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it plans to extend the time frame for public commenting on newly proposed e-cig regulations through August 8, adding an additional 30 days. The extended term is likely due in part to the influx of comments they have received. According to a report published by ABC News, the Food and Drug Administration has received over 33,700 comments on the proposed ecig regulations, whereas the 120-day commenting period for menthol tobacco cigarettes received 176,000 comments.
‘Currently FDA regulates cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco. Proposed newly ‘deemed’ products would include electronic cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, certain dissolvable products that are not “smokeless tobacco,” gels, and water pipe tobacco. Once the proposed rule becomes final, FDA will be able to use powerful regulatory tools, such as age restrictions and rigorous scientific review of new tobacco products and claims to reduce tobacco-related disease and death’ wrote the Administration on their official website.
Back in April, the FDA suggested banning sales of e-cigarettes to anyone under 18, adding warning labels and requiring agency approval for all future products. However, the FDA didn’t promptly place any marketing restrictions on ecig makers or ban fruit or candy flavors, which are prohibited for use in tobacco cigarettes. The agency has left the door open to further regulations, but believe more evidence is required before it rushes into more restrictions.
Besides requiring warning labels that say nicotine is an addictive chemical, the rules would mandate e-cigarette manufacturers to reveal their products’ ingredients. However, they will still be prohibited to claim that their products are safer than other tobacco products. In addition, they are prohibited to give out free samples or sell e-cig in vending machines unless they are in a place open only to adults, such as bars.
The market for ecigs has increased dramatically from only thousands of users in 2006 to several million worldwide and reached nearly $2 billion in sales in 2013. Tobacco companies have noticed that e-smokes are eating into cigarette sales, and they have jumped into the business, with Lorillard, Altria and Reynolds being the biggest players.
Smokers adore e-cigarettes because the nicotine-infused vapor looks and feels like smoke but doesn’t contain the thousands of chemicals, tar or ash of combustible cigarettes. Some smokers use these products as a way to quit smoking tobacco, or to cut down but scientists haven’t finished much research on ecigs, and the studies that have been done have been inconclusive.
Most e-cigarette companies view the FDA’s proposed regulations as a positive element to this dynamic, and constantly-growing industry. Like all markets, electronic cigarettes require regulation to ensure a safe and long-lasting environment.