After 9 Years, the FDA Cracks Down On E-Cigarettes

“August 8th … marks the beginning of a two-year countdown to FDA prohibition of 99.9%+ of vapor products on the market,” wrote Greg Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, on the group’s website.

As of that date, the Food and Drug Administration imposed a regulation requiring that nearly every e-cigarette product on the market must now go through an application process to deem whether it can continue to be sold. This applies to all e-cigarette products that have been available since February 2007. A two-year window gives manufacturers time to keep selling their products before complying with this new requirement. After August 8, 2018, those who have submitted an application may continue selling for one more year while the FDA reviews their product.

According to Conley, “If we do not succeed in changing the FDA’s (new regulations), the vapor industry will shrink to almost nothing beginning August 8, 2018.”

It remains to be seen whether this is true.

Here’s what’s happening now:

Prior to the new FDA regulation, most states prohibited retailers from selling e-cigarettes, hookah tobacco or cigars to minors, but the federal government did not. Now, according to federal law, vape shops cannot give free samples to customers or sell any of these products to people younger than 18. Merchants are required to ask for identification from customers who appear to be under the age of 27. Vending machine sales of e-cigarettes are allowed only when the machines are in adult-only facilities.

The e-cigarette industry, which touts its products as a healthier alternative to cigarettes, is fighting this new regulation via official statements, lobbying, and lawsuits. Nicopure Labs, one of the leading U.S. e-liquid manufacturers, filed a federal lawsuit in May opposing the regulations, arguing that the rules placed a “disproportionate and unjustified regulator burden” on the industry.

Evan Swarztrauber, a spokesman for technology group TechFreedom, concurs with this view. “This is an absurd way to regulate new technology,” he says. “The FDA’s obsession with perfect safety will deny Americans what is obviously a safer technology for consuming nicotine.”

According to anti-tobacco health groups, e-cigarettes act as a gateway to the use of other tobacco products, and their use is rising steadily among youth.  Further, safety of e-cigarettes (beyond their addicting effects) has been questioned.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16% of high school students in 2015 used e-cigarettes, up from 1.5% in 2011; a tenfold increase in just four years. According to federal health officials, approximately 3 million middle and high school students use e-cigarettes.

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