This Week in FDA Regulations: 40 States Ask for E-Cig Rules

By William Peacock, Esq. on September 26, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

E-cigarettes seem to be the hot topic in federal regulation, and for good reason.

The tobacco alternative, which delivers nicotine-laced vapor into the lungs, has exploded in popularity while regulations have languished far behind. Prime example: Cigarettes cannot be flavored (even menthol may be on the way out), while e-cigarettes can come in such delightful flavors as cherry, rocky road, or chocolate.

Now, frustrated by the Food and Drug Administration's delay in regulating the devices, 40 states' attorneys general have signed on to a letter urging the administration to act before an October 31 deadline, reports CBS News.

Why the Delay?

It might be because the FDA doesn't know how to regulate e-cigs. While regular cigarettes cause cancer due to the plethora of carcinogens found in the burning tobacco and additives, according to the Mayo Clinic, nicotine does not, by itself, cause cancer.

An e-cig merely provides water vapor, nicotine, and flavoring. While the addictive properties of nicotine may provide some justification for regulating them, the FDA, to date, has simply stated that they really know nothing about the devices, including such vital questions as:

  • Are they safe for their intended purpose?
  • Are there any benefits to these products?
  • How much nicotine is actually being delivered? (There are hundreds of manufacturers out there due to the lack of regulation.)
  • Do they lead children to try actual tobacco products? (A recent study shows an increase in children trying e-cigs, but we are unaware of any "gateway" to tobacco studies.)

The FDA's website also states that it does intend to regulate the products in a manner similar to tobacco products. Eventually.

Industry Response

CBS cites Tom Kiklas, of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Foundation, who agrees that the devices should be responsibly regulated, including a ban on marketing to children. What he wants to avoid, however, is for the products to become "demonized."

We'd reiterate, from previous posts, that other members of the industry are likely far less enthusiastic about regulation. Restrictions on Internet sales, and "behind the counter" rules could kill small businesses, consolidate the industry, and leave only Big Tobacco, which has retail distribution channels, as the only manufacturers left.

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