The federal Food and Drug Administration is about to create some steam within the electronic cigarette industry with new regulations monitoring the industry expected to come as soon as this month.
Depending on the severity of the regulations, the new rules could have a dramatic impact on the future of the rapidly growing industry and the people who depend on the tobacco alternative to wean themselves off of traditional cigarettes.
The pending announcement from the FDA comes after mounting pressure from some Democratic members of Congress and health groups who have pressured the government agency to place comprehensive restrictions on the devices, similar to those regulating the use and vending of traditional cigarettes.
Those pushing for the FDA to establish strict rules are concerned that e-cigarettes may have adverse health impacts on users and that the industry is marketing the products to children by creating fruit and candy-like flavors for the nicotine vapor.
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However, there are many on the other side of the debate who point to the fact there have been no long term-studies indicating e-cigarettes cause any substantial harm to users.
“E-cigarettes are quite clearly low risk – despite the rhetoric – there is no genuine scientific doubt about that,” Dr. Carl V. Phillips, the scientific director at the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA), told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“Anything that makes e-cigarettes harder to obtain is going to be terrible for public health,” he said.
Phillips believes that much of the opposition to e-cigarettes stems from moral preferences, not scientific studies.
“A lot of the modern tobacco control movement is a quasi-religious purity movement. They do not like people engaging in a behavior that they morally disapprove of. They disguise that behind health claims,” he told TheDCNF.
The forthcoming regulations will likely parallel those currently governing regular cigarettes. E-cigarette companies will probably be required to disclose their product’s ingredients and include health warning labels on packages and other advertising.
Companies may also have to overhaul their marketing strategies. Some expect federal regulators to limit advertising on TV, radio and billboards, restrict company sponsorship of concerts and athletic events, and ban branded apparel items.
Additionally, regulators may implement rules regarding the thousands of vapor flavors available, which some have argued are marketed towards youths. Similar to traditional cigarettes, the FDA will likely bar anyone under the age of 18 from purchasing the product.
The government regulatory agency will also determine the grandfather date that would allow the devices to remain on store shelves without prior approval from the FDA. Depending on the ruling, some — and perhaps all — e-cigarettes could be taken off the market until they are evaluated by the agency.
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