In 2009 The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was signed into law, giving the “FDA authority to regulate the manufacture, distribution, and marketing of tobacco products.” The law, commonly known as the Tobacco Control Act, placed restrictions on “marketing tobacco products to children” and gave the FDA authority to ban sales to minors as well as provide other restrictions. In 2014 the FDA announced new regulations “to gain regulatory authority over tobacco products not yet regulated by the FDA,” including electronic cigarettes.
Now, a proposed ruling two years in the making will finally go into effect starting August 8, 2016, banning the sale of “e-cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco and hookah tobacco to people under age 18.” This new rule brings the above tobacco/nicotine products in line with the rules for cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and roll-your-own tobacco.
The tobacco companies will be required “to submit these products to it (FDA) for regulatory review.” The FDA will also require the list of ingredients in these products, with a “staggered review period.” Health warnings will also need to be placed on packages and in advertisements. In addition to reviewing the ingredients in tobacco products, the FDA will have authority to: “review new tobacco products not yet on the market; help prevent misleading claims by tobacco product manufacturers; and communicate the potential risks of tobacco products.”
While the new ruling stops teens from purchasing electronic cigarettes, it falls short. It does not stop the marketing to youth “or the use of sweet e-cigarette flavors such as gummy bear and cotton candy.” Even research conducted by the FDA stated that those youth “who had ever experimented with tobacco started with a flavored product, including 81% of youth who had ever used e-cigarettes.” This ruling also doesn’t prevent “online sales of e-cigarettes and refill liquids to youth.”
While the FDA is trying to protect youth from addictive products, they are being blackmailed by “two provisions recently approved as part of the House appropriations bill that funds the FDA” which may take some of that control back unless the FDA “exempts certain cigars”. The bill will also “limit FDA review of e-cigarettes and cigars already on the market, including the many candy-flavored products” youth are drawn to. The question is why is Congress putting special interests ahead of public health, especially the future health of youth, by once again limiting the authority of the FDA?