The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to issue its first regulations on electronic cigarettes by the end of the month, NBC reports; many health experts are awaiting what the regulations will say. Many would like the new rules will strictly limit the e-cigarettes, which have brought up concerns among some who think they keep smokers addicted rather than help them quit, but are realistic about the actual outcome.
In 2009, Congress gave the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products. Although the agency cannot ban tobacco products outright, it can require manufacturers to list ingredients and regulate warning labels on the packages.
According to NBC, few health experts expect the FDA to implement strict rules. Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, is disappointed by this. “The failure of FDA to act before this has allowed the e-cigarette market to explode in uncontrolled ways,” Myers said to NBC News. “People are not using e-cigarettes to quit smoking but are using them to maintain their smoking habits.”
Smoking e-cigarettes, dubbed by some as “vaping”, is fairly new. This poses a challenge to both the FDA and health experts, NBC reports. The cigarettes implement a heated mixture of water, nicotine and propylene glycol mixed with other flavors and chemicals. Currently, manufacturers do not have to disclose the ingredients in e-cigarettes. NBC says that experts they spoke with want that changed, at the very least. Health experts also want the FDA to prohibit sales to anyone under the age of 18 and limit ads, especially ones that appear to target children and teenagers.
Gregg Haifley, federal relations director of the ACS Cancer Action Network, noted that it would be difficult to expect more. “We are faced with this initial hurdle of FDA asserting its authority over these products. It is going to be a long and cumbersome process,” he said.
In the past, the FDA tried to increase regulations by categorizing e-cigarettes as medical devices. However, tobacco companies won in federal appeals courts when they challenged this and the products are regulated as tobacco products.
Earlier this year, the FDA’s first anti-smoking campaign contained graphic images targeted towards teens. In February, the agency ordered a company to stop selling cigarette-like products called bidids; it was the FDA’s first tentative action against a tobacco product.