The FDA will today propose its new regulations for e-cigarettes, which up until now have seen basically no federal oversight. The new rules will also cover pipe tobacco and cigars, which have also gone unregulated until now. Highlights from the hundreds-of-pages-long blueprint, from the New York Times and the AP:
- Cigar and e-cigarette producers would need to register with the FDA, apply for FDA approval for their products, and give the agency detailed information about their manufacturing processes, their products' ingredients, and more. They would also be subject to FDA inspections. (There will be a two-year grace period after the rules are finalized, during which time companies can keep selling products before acquiring FDA approval.) But, in short: "You won’t be able to mix nicotine in your bathtub and sell it anymore," says one anti-smoking advocate.
- Sales of all three products would be limited to adults 18 or over, who would need to show photo ID. A number of states already require that. (These rules would also limit the sales of e-cigarettes and cigars online and in vending machines to ensure only adults are purchasing them.)
- E-cigarettes would be required to have warning labels saying they contain nicotine, an addictive substance. Companies could not market them as less harmful than traditional cigarettes unless given FDA approval to do so. They also would not be allowed to describe their products as "light" or "mild."
- Companies would not be allowed to offer free samples.
What doesn't the proposal contain?
- A requirement to ban flavors (think bubble gum-flavored e-cigarettes or cigars) that are said to draw kids to the products.
- Any further restrictions on marketing (traditional cigarettes cannot be marketed on television).
FDA officials say, however, that these rules are just a first step and eventually, both flavors and marketing will be regulated; in addition, the FDA will eventually come up with manufacturing standards companies will have to adhere to. The proposal is up for public comment for 75 days before final changes are made, and officials say they won't take effect for at least another year—longer if companies lobby or sue to block them. (Click through for a new study that raises concerns about e-cigarettes