The Food and Drug Administration proposed Thursday the first federal regulations on electronic cigarettes, which would ban sales of the popular devices to anyone under 18 and require makers to gain FDA approval for their products.
The proposed rules fall short of those governing traditional cigarettes. They won’t, for example, ban ads or Internet sales of the products, or the use of flavors in them, which some critics say attracts young users.
But in a victory for consumer groups, makers will be required to disclose the chemicals used in the devices and be banned from distributing free samples. New health warnings will note that the nicotine they contain can be addictive.
The battery-powered devices that turn nicotine-laced water into vapor are a fast-growing alternative to smoking, with sales expected to approach $2 billion this year, compared with the overall U.S. tobacco market of about $100 billion. The gadgets have drawn huge investor interest while sparking debate over whether they attract new users or mostly divert cigarette buyers, and whether they lure children into nicotine addiction.
The proposed rules are less restrictive, at least at the outset, than many had expected.
In a research note early Thursday, Morgan Stanley tobacco analyst David Adelman called the regulatory outline “very light, non-disruptive and unlikely to impact” the growth trajectory of the e-cigarette industry any time soon. But he added subsequent FDA actions “at some distant future point” could still curb the category.
Make no mistake, this is not the end. They will go after flavors other than tobacco. And smaller businesses making their own juices are going to suffer, even under these restrictions. Not all companies are Blu and the others like them. Some are smaller people using the same stuff – or better – and selling their own recipes. They’re who I’ve been buying my stuff from for the two years I’ve been vaping.
It isn’t going to end there.
I agree with restricting the age to 18+. The rest is just getting up in people’s lives. Again. That’s what the government does best.