The FDA announced new rules for e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes, aka electronic cigarettes, are not as healthy as they appear to be determined the FDA. In addition to other companies, tobacco companies have turned e-cigarettes into a multibillion-dollar business. Unlike with cigarettes, tobacco companies are getting away with poisoning consumers because there is no federal oversight into what electronic cigarettes can and cannot contain. But, according to an April 24 The New York Times report, all of that is about to change.
For the first time, the FDA is taking a stand against the multi-billion e-cigarette industry. “As electronic cigarettes soar in popularity, the U.S. government Thursday is proposing historic rules to ban their sale to minors and require warning labels as well as federal approval,” reports USA Today on April 24.
One of the major sweeping new rules proposed by the FDA includes that manufacturers have to report the ingredients that are being put into e-cigarettes. Those ingredients have to be provided to the FDA and obtain an approval. “Perhaps the biggest proposed change would require producers of cigars and e-cigarettes to register with the F.D.A., provide the agency with a detailed accounting of their products’ ingredients and disclose their manufacturing processes and scientific data. Producers would also be subject to F.D.A. inspections.”
In late 2008, when the e-cigarette market was just beginning in the United States, the FDA had already found traces of amounts of toxic and carcinogenic ingredients in electronic cigarettes. In 2009, the FDA published a health brochure titled “FDA Warns of Health Risks Posed by E-Cigarettes,” and on Dec. 7, 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld a lower court ruling and decided that electronic cigarettes should be regulated as tobacco products because the vapors “can contain almost the same amounts of the carcinogenic compound formaldehyde as in a conventional cigarette.”
Despite the FDA’s findings and warnings by the World Health Organization (WHO), the tobacco industry has been successful in selling e-cigarettes as a “healthy” alternative to cigarettes. Much of the tobacco industry’s success is due to a lack of long-term studies in regard to the adverse health effects of electronic cigarettes, the fact that many people do not know that the tobacco industry is behind e-cigarettes, and that big tobacco companies make sure they have lobbyists represent their multi-billion dollar industry in Washington. It would indeed be shocking if the FDA, with its supposedly "historic rules," would be able to accomplish anything this time around.
Since very little has been accomplished on a federal level in regard to the cigarette alternative, several states and cities have taken the matter into their own hands. As reported in December of 2013, an e-cigarette ban in New York City joined an already existing ban in New Jersey, in Arkansas, in Utah, in North Dakota, and in several cities in California. The ban prohibits the use of the electronic cigarette device in bars, restaurants, parks, and other public places where smoking is prohibited because of the dangers of secondhand smoke from e-cigarettes.
While states and cities focus on where e-cigarette smokers can indulge in their habit and who can buy the product, the FDA is also attempting to regulate what e-cigarettes can and cannot contain. FDA commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg said that according to the new rules, electronic cigarette makers would “have to report to us the constituents of their products and also how they are making them.” In addition, the regulation would make e-cigarettes off-limits to children under the age of 18. Besides e-cigarettes, the new rules would apply to flavored cigars and nicotine gels.