Agency also details other retail restrictions on access to vaping products
The sale of e-cigarettes to minors has been banned starting Aug. 8, as part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s long-awaited plan to extend the agency’s regulatory powers across all tobacco products.
The new rules halt the sale of e-cigarettes and any other tobacco product to anyone younger than 18.
The regulations also require photo IDs to buy e-cigarettes, and ban retailers from handing out free samples or selling them in all-ages vending machines.
The rules also cover other alternative forms of tobacco like cigars, hookah tobacco and pipe tobacco.
Electronic cigarettes are battery-operated devices designed to create an aerosol that delivers nicotine, flavor and other chemicals when inhaled by the user. Manufacturers have marketed the products as a way to help smokers quit cigarettes. But opponents contend that the nicotine-laden e-cigarettes actually encourage people — especially vulnerable teens — to pick up the smoking habit.
“This final rule is a foundational step that enables the FDA to regulate products young people were using at alarming rates, like e-cigarettes, cigars and hookah tobacco, which had gone largely unregulated,” Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA Center for Tobacco Products, said during a media briefing when the oversight was announced in May.
The FDA action earned universal praise from medical associations, which have been concerned that e-cigarettes serve as a gateway drug to draw teenagers into a lifetime of smoking addiction.
“Youth use e-cigarettes more than any other tobacco product on the market today, serving as an entry point to more traditional tobacco products and placing kids at risk to the harms and addiction of nicotine and other tobacco products,” Harold Wimmer, national president and CEO of the American Lung Association, said in May. “Ending the tobacco epidemic is more urgent than ever, and can only happen if the FDA acts aggressively and broadly to protect all Americans from all tobacco products.”
E-cigarette manufacturers also will not be allowed to promote the devices as a healthy alternative to smoking, unless they provide strong scientific evidence that supports the claim, Zeller said.