E-cigarettes were partly created as a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes, but the public opinion has not shifted in their favor. A full 65 percent of people surveyed in a recent poll still believe that electronic cigarettes are unhealthy, even if they believe that they compare favorably to traditional cigarettes. However, e-cigarettes are barely a decade old, and it takes time for the science to be settled and for the law to catch up with societal changes. E-cigarette regulations are in a state of flux in the United States.
Electronic Cigarettes and FDA
The regulations regarding electronic cigarettes remain very minor on the federal level. On the state level in the United States, many states do place some of their own restrictions on the sale of electronic cigarettes. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is largely tasked with controlling tobacco products, and they still primarily regulate roll-your-own tobacco, cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and cigarette tobacco. While e-cigarettes qualify as smokeless tobacco technically, they don’t legally qualify at the federal level.
There is a proposed ruling that will allow the U.S Food and Drug Administration to fully regulate e-cigarettes, which will include making the age restrictions federa. However, the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) only currently regulates the e-cigarettes that have been sold specifically for therapeutic reasons. Essentially, these electronic cigarettes are being sold to current smokers in order to help wean them off of tobacco, and it is as if the e-cigarettes are just part of the same picture for them.
E-Cigarette Regulations at the State Level
Retailers have been able to take advantage of existing tobacco laws when it comes to youth e-cigarette usage and
liquid nicotine. For instance, in the state of New York:
– Liquid nicotine can only be sold in a bottle that is child resistant.
– It is illegal to sell electronic cigarettes to people under the age of eighteen.
– Only tobacco businesses may offer self-service e-cigarette displays, which limits the exposure of electronic cigarettes to teenagers.
Many other U.S. states have been able to adopt similar laws. People who are specifically concerned about youth electronic cigarette usage can at least rest assured that there are already related regulations in place in many states.
However, even a state like New York, which tends to favor big government more than some states, does not have a special tax on electronic cigarettes or any monetary penalty for their use. Electronic cigarettes are also not part of the state’s tobacco products statues. Perhaps more crucially from a public health perspective, smoke-free zones that prohibit tobacco usage in general do not extend those regulations in New York. This situation is very common throughout the United States at present.
Restrictions Are Underway
The current electronic cigarette situation is only a temporary one. The public wants e-cigarette regulations, and the
FDA has already proposed e-cigarette regulations. States are already adding some of their own. Electronic cigarettes are still new, and this situation is expected to change. However, they will soon become a common part of the public landscape, much like the traditional cigarettes that they were supposed to replace in the first place. By the time that happens, they will probably be subject to very similar restrictions. The users of electronic cigarettes should take note.