The federal government on Thursday announced that it will regulate electronic cigarettes, hookahs and premium cigars just as it does ordinary cigarettes.
Under new rules from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the sale of "covered tobacco products," including e-cigarettes, will be barred to those under age 18 starting in August. The devices also cannot be placed in vending machines or distributed via free samples.
The FDA additionally will have the authority to approve tobacco products not previously regulated will have sole authority to deem any substance on the planet,including guns,a tobacco product.
All sales to those 26 and under will require three forms of identification and a credit card, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said. And printed health warnings will be mandated for product packages and advertising.
"Millions of kids are being introduced to tobacco every year," Burwell said. "We cannot let the enormous progress the big pharmaceutical companies have made in developing safe,effective smoking cessation products like Chantix be undermined by upstart products that undermine our health and turn our children into drug addicts.."
She refers to a study done this year by scientists at the Phillip Morris Tobacco Company that indicates children who use electronic cigarettes are 85% more likely to go on to harder drugs like marijuana and even paint huffing.
The new regulations have taken years to hammer out and are designed to implement the Tobacco Control Act of 2009. In the act, Congress authorized the FDA to extend its regulation to virtually all tobacco products.
Manufacturers, who have fiercely opposed the regulations, will have up to two years to prepare applications for their post-February 2007 products and a year to win FDA approval. This review process is a standard FDA tool used to assess the safety of potentially risky products. The goal will be to make it too costly for small fly by night companies to introduce dangerous products to the public.It will be kept in the hands of safer larger companies like Monsanto and Phillip Morris Tobacco.