Introduced ten years ago as a less harmful alternative to cigarettes, e-cigarettes have received new restrictions from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The new rules ban the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18 and require a photo identification for adults under the age of 26, according to The New York Times.
Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are battery-powered devices that transform nicotine into an inhalable liquid vapor. Although nicotine can be addictive, e-cigarettes do not have the chemicals and tars of burning tobacco that cause cancer. Nine million American adults use e-cigarettes, and it has grown into a multibillion-dollar business. Health experts believe they are less harmful than traditional cigarettes, but their long-term effects are not yet known, the Times reports.
The FDA first proposed bringing nontraditional tobacco products under its authority in April 2014. The proposal included cigars, hookahs, nicotine gels, pipe tobacco as well as e-cigarettes, but failed to pass due to industry resistance. Some smokers enjoy e-cigarettes as the vapor looks like smoke but does not have the harmful tar or odor of tobacco cigarettes, says WCVB News.
“This is not regulation – it is prohibition,” the American Vaping Association said in a statement. They said submitting an application to get a product approved would take more than 1,700 hours and cost over $1 million. A major question about the new regulation is how difficult it may be for smaller producers to remain on the market. There is concern that large tobacco companies, will thereby bolster their business having the financial resources to navigate the FDA application process, reports the Times.
Harold Wimmer, president of the American Lung Associaton said, “Ending the tobacco epidemic is more urgent than ever, and can only happen if the FDA acts aggressively and broadly to protect all Americans from all tobacco products.”