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FDA proposes new rules for e-cigarettes

Ashley Hirtzel

The Food and Drug Administration proposed strict new regulations on e-cigarettes yesterday. The FDA plans to submit a regulatory blueprint to congress that will widen its authority over the electronic devices, as well as cigars, pipe tobacco and hookahs.

Chair of Department of Health Behavior at Roswell Park Cancer Institute Andrew Hyland says the FDA’s plans will be the first of several steps for e-cigarettes to follow the same guidelines as cigarettes.

Currently, the FDA is only able to regulate cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and roll-your-own tobacco. But, if approved, the FDA will also be able to set new rules on e-cigarettes, cigars and hookahs.

“What’s included in these draft regulations are national standards that 18 is minimum age to purchase [e-cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco and hookahs]. New York has had that minimum age for a little bit now. Some states have, many states have not. This adopts a uniform regulation. It requires no free samples, so you can’t give away e-cigarettes. There needs to be ingredient disclosure and disclosure of manufacturing processes,” said Hyland.

Hyland says there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic that e-cigarettes are a good alternative for smokers, but he adds there are also plenty of reasons to be cautious of them.

“There are toxic emissions that come off e-cigarette vapor. However, the levels of that are a lot lower than what you see with active cigarette smoking. In terms of are e-cigarettes maybe the next best alternative? The answer to that depends on whether or not one switches all together from cigarette smoking or some people I’m sure are using it as a reason not to quit. It’s a crutch for them to continue to smoke when they would otherwise they would have stopped all together,” said Hyland.

The FDA’s proposal does not restrict the marketing of e-cigarettes or the flavors they come in. Hyland says he was surprised, because those factors tend to attract young people to the products.

CJ Johnston, who co-owns The Vapor Trail in South Buffalo, says he hasn’t read the FDA’s full proposal yet, but he agrees that e-cigarettes shouldn’t be sold to minors.

“There should be an age limit I don’t want children using this. I don’t believe that parents should be getting this for children just like I don’t believe parents should be buying cigarettes for children. Just like alcohol at 21. I feel that if should be regulated in that aspect, absolutely,” said Johnston.

The regulatory plan is open to public comment for 75 days and then the FDA will make final changes.