FDA Considering Banning Online Sales of e-Cigarettes

potential_e-cigarette_banThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering a potential online sales ban of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes).

The agency has been in discussions with the e-cigarette industry, according to The Wall Street Journal, and is preparing a series of proposed regulations, people who are familiar with the matter said. In 2009, the FDA warned that e-cigarettes could present health risks.

The agency is scheduled to formally present its proposals this October and is hearing industry’s views on regulation of the devices. The so-called “listening sessions” are taking place at agency headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland and involve a series of meetings and conference calls that industry requested, according to the Journal.

As part of that effort, company executives have discussed with the FDA an online-sales ban to minimize the likelihood of minors using the products, as well as whether the minimum age for the product should be 18 or 19, those familiar with the discussions said. The FDA is also reviewing television, radio, and print advertising standards for the e-cigarettes, according to the people, wrote the Journal. Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products is overseeing the project.

Mr. Zeller told the Journal in an interview that he seeks to publish the proposed regulations in October. “It is true that more research is needed on the health effects of e-cigarettes. However, we do not need more research on whether e-cigarettes should or should not be included in proposed FDA regulations,” he noted.

Analysts estimate United States e-cigarette sales will reach $1 billion in 2013 and will likely go as high as $10 billion in five years, according to  Bonnie Herzog, with Wells Fargo Securities. Some 45 million Americans smoke and, in 2011, smokers purchased 293 billion cigarettes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Journal reported.

As we’ve written, the use of e-cigarettes, or electronic nicotine delivery systems, is on the rise globally, but with little information on related health effects. e-cigarettes burn and vaporize nicotine and other ingredients in its cartridge, via an aerosol created when heated. No information exists concerning the chemicals in the aerosolized vapors.

The batteries, atomizers, cartridges, cartridge wrappers, packs, and instruction manuals included with e-cigarette purchases do not contain critical information about ingredients, use, and important warnings. The cartridges can leak, releasing nicotine to children, adults, pets, and the environment. Nicotine, a key component in the manufacture of cigarettes, is an addictive and dangerous chemical.

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