E-Cigarettes

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FDA Proposes First Regulations for E-Cigarettes

The FDA is proposing regulations that would rein in the e-cigarette industry. (Getty Images)

The FDA is proposing regulations that would rein in the e-cigarette industry. (Getty Images)

By Rob Stein (NPR) and Rachel Dornhelm

The Food and Drug Administration Thursday proposed regulating e-cigarettes for the first time.

The agency unveiled a long-awaited rule that would give it power to oversee the increasingly popular devices, much in the way that it regulates traditional cigarettes.

“It’s a huge change,” FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg told reporters in a briefing before the official announcement of the agency’s plans. “We will have the authority as a science-based regulatory agency to take critical actions to promote and protect the health of the public.”

The proposal will be subject to public comment and further review by the agency before becoming final. But once that happens the rule would impose new restrictions, including:

  • A ban on the sale of e-cigarettes to minors
  • A prohibition on distributing free samples
  • A ban on selling e-cigarettes in vending machines unless they are in places that never admit young people
  • A requirement that e-cigarettes carry warnings that they contain nicotine, which is addictive
  • E-cigarette manufacturers would be required to disclose the ingredients in their products
“This announcement starts the process that will give us the authority to actually get out there and regulate e-cigarettes.”

U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo), who has asked for congressional hearings on the topic, called the regulations today “long overdue.” In a statement she said she wants to see wider governmental control of the $2 billion industry, especially provisions that govern advertising to minors and former smokers.

“Although the proposed rule does make long awaited changes such as restricting the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, there are important pieces missing — such as child-proof packaging. Too many children have ended up poisoned by the devices,” Speier said.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) also immediately responded to the FDA’s move and called for further action. Continue reading

E-Cigarettes May Not Have Tobacco, But Still Pose Risks

Woman using an e-cigarette. (Getty Images)

Woman using an e-cigarette. (Getty Images)

By Kenny Goldberg, KPBS

While cigarettes are a familiar sight in just about any convenience store, now they’re sharing space with a related product: e-cigarettes. They’re not tobacco based. Instead, e-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that heat liquid nicotine and turn it into vapor. Electronic cigarettes are catching fire, especially with young people, because they offer the experience of smoking, without burning tobacco. The FDA has yet to regulate them, but many cities aren’t waiting. On Thursday, the New York City Council is expected to vote on a ban, following similar moves by many California cities.

At Vapor Craze, an e-cigarette shop near San Diego State University, Jeff Pascua puffs away. Or, as he calls it, vapes. Every few moments, Pascua reloads his e-cigarette from a small plastic bottle.

“It’s called the e-liquid juice,” Pasqua says. “Two types: VG and PG,” or vegetable glyceride  and propylene glyceride.

Pascua used to smoke cigarettes. Then he heard about e-cigarettes and decided to give them a try. He says vaping helps him curb his cravings for a real smoke. Continue reading