New FDA regulations on e-cigarettes a “mixed bag”

2 min read

E-cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, and hookah tobacco will soon be regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and their sale will be banned to anyone under age 18, it was announced May 5. Vaughan Rees, director of the Center for Global Tobacco Control at Harvard Chan School, discusses the impact of this new policy on public health.

Describe the importance of this new FDA regulation and what effect it might have on tobacco use among young people.

Finally the FDA has taken action, so it is a welcome start. The new regulations will require companies to submit e-cigarettes and other newer tobacco products for government approval, to provide ingredient lists, and to include health warnings on packages and in ads. In addition, sales of these products will be banned to anyone under 18. The public health community and the tobacco control community are grateful for the fact that e-cigarettes will now be regulated as tobacco products.

But the FDA did not take decisive steps in implementing strategies that will really address concerns about youth initiation to e-cigarettes—notably, they did not eliminate candy and exotic flavors in e-cigarettes. This is a big problem because, in recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the prevalence of e-cigarette use among youth.