The United States Food and Drug Administration announced on Thursday that it would begin regulating all tobacco-related products, including cigars, pipe tobacco, hookah tobacco, and even e-cigarettes. This new rule will have a profound effect on the e-cigarette industry and the culture of vaping, which has exploded in popularity in recent years.
The most controversial addition will change how e-cigarettes are sold, treating them with the same scrutiny and limitations as tobacco-based cigarettes. The regulation prohibits the sale of e-cigs and other tobacco-related products in vending machines, and does not allow companies to distribute their products as free samples. In a move that will cause widespread discontent among teens, it also bans the sale of these products to customers who are under the age of 18.
Consumers are not the only ones feeling the pinch of these new regulations; manufacturers now also face much closer scrutiny. Companies selling these products must register their manufacturing facilities with the FDA and provide the agency with details about their products and their ingredients. For e-cigarettes, this includes e-liquids, atomizers, flavors, and more.
Companies who want to continue to sell their products must receive FDA approval, a process that, among other things, requires them to provide evidence that their products do not cause any new health risks to consumers.
E-cigarette manufacturers and vape shops will be hit the hardest by this new regulation, which may cost the industry more than $1 million in the first year, as manufacturers scramble to stay in compliance with the new FDA rules. The agency is staggering the compliance dates to make it easier on e-cigarette makers, but many manufacturers will be forced to close their doors.
Representatives of makers likely to be hard hit by the rules were quick to speak out.
Tony Abboud, legislative director for the Vapor Technology Association, chastised the FDA for these rules, saying “the FDA will, in one stroke, kill almost a decade of innovation in the vapor technology industry.”