FDA moves to take on regulation of e-cigarettes


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The Food and Drug Administration is poised to propose regulation of additional tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes (also known as e-cigs or vapes), in a fashion similar to its current regulation of cigarettes, cigarette tobacco and smokeless tobacco.

As a pediatrician and parent, I’m very pleased with this news.

The move would allow the FDA to use tobacco regulation tools such as nationwide age restrictions, review of tobacco related products, and review of health claims that the manufacturers of these products may be making.

Why would a pediatrician care?

Age restrictions

National age restrictions would make it more difficult for underage users to purchase nicotine containing products, requiring proof of age. It’s far too easy to click “yes” in the popup box that asks if you are over 18 before entering a popular e-cigarette website.

Regulation of nicotine content

In an unregulated industry, there is no guarantee that label on the product (for example, 1.2 percent nicotine) is in fact the actual concentration of the product. Even more importantly, making certain that non-nicotine vaporizer liquids are actually free of the addicting chemical.


Uneducated users, like our impressionable teenagers who are just looking for the next “cool” thing, need to know that they may be trading a battle with a lifelong addiction for the chance to vape a couple of times. When surveyed, most teenagers respond that “vaping” is harmless and do not realize that vapes and e-cigs are equivalent and that the main reason they are being produced is for their nicotine content. It’s not a far stretch to imagine teens being sold cherry flavored vaporizers without being informed that they are also purchasing (and inhaling) nicotine.

Regulation of advertising

Let’s be honest, “Cherry Crush” and “Java Jolt” are aimed at young, naive users. If the FDA can regulate advertising of traditional cigarettes, shouldn’t it also do so for smokeless nicotine?


The number of accidental poisonings, especially in young children, from concentrated e-liquids is growing at a rapid and alarming pace as these products become more commonplace.

It may take a year or more for the regulations to be put into place, but I look forward to the day when it is not so easy for children to obtain these products and when manufacturers have to show good scientific evidence to support their claims that e-cigs are a healthy alternative to smoking.

Stay well!


FDA: Tobacco information

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids