Original story by Dennis Thompson, HealthDay – August 8, 2016, 11:08 AM
The sale of electronic cigarettes to minors are banned nationwide as of this past Monday, August 8, 2016. This mandate is part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) long-overdue plan to extend the agency’s regulatory powers over all tobacco products. The new rule ensures electronic cigarettes and any other tobacco product (including hookah, cigars, and pipe tobacco) are not being sold to anyone younger than 18. The regulations also require photo IDs to buy e-cigarettes, and bans retailers from handing out free samples or selling them in all-ages vending machines.
Electronic cigarettes are battery-operated devices designed to create an aerosol that delivers nicotine, flavor and other chemicals when inhaled by the user. Manufacturers have marketed the products as a way to help smokers quit cigarettes, although these statements have not been verified by the FDA or trustworthy research studies. In addition to the youth access regulations, the new ruling forbids electronic cigarette manufacturers from promoting their products as a “healthier alternative to smoking”, until strong scientific evidence is provided to the FDA that supports the claim.
Tobacco control and other public health groups contend that electronic cigarettes actually encourage people — especially teens — to pick up the smoking habit. “Youth use e-cigarettes more than any other tobacco product on the market today, serving as an entry point to more traditional tobacco products,” Harold Wimmer, national president and CEO of the American Lung Association, said in May.
A recent survey of approximately 300 high school students discovered that teens in the United States who use electronic cigarettes are six times more likely to move on to traditional cigarettes compared to kids who never use the devices. “The increase in electronic cigarette use, which may be followed by increases in cigarette use, could result in an erosion of the progress that has been made over the last several decades in tobacco control,” she added. This increase is amplified by the tobacco industry’s billion-dollar annual advertising budget, which targets ads at youth and other vulnerable populations.
Until now, electronic cigarettes and other alternative tobacco products have gone unregulated by the FDA. Manufacturers are now required to submit new and existing products to the FDA for review and evaluation, unless the product was sold prior to Feb. 15, 2007. It is estimated that 99% of all electronic cigarette and “vaping” products that are now on the market will have to be submitted for review. The FDA anticipates that existing brands will have at least three more regulation-free years on the market — two of which allows manufacturers to prepare their product application and another year for FDA review.
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