Gather ye e-cigarettes while ye may. According to a report from The New York Times, the FDA is preparing to announce "sweeping new rules" to regulate the sale of e-cigs, cigars, gels, and pipes. Tomorrow, the agency will unveil a "hundreds-of-pages-long" blueprint for the regulations—a long-delayed attempt to gain control over a booming industry.
The full plan won't be unveiled until tomorrow, but the FDA has released a rough outline of what's in store. For example, the new rules would make it illegal to sell to people under 18. And, crucially, makers of the products would be required by law to tell the FDA what's actually in them, as well as how they make them and other scientific data.
We've known that the FDA has been giving the e-cigarette industry the side eye for years, so it's not a huge surprise that its regulatory blueprint is finally emerging. However, there are a few surprises in store—namely, what it isn't trying to control. For example, it's still unclear whether "premium" cigars will be included in the new rules, thanks to frantic lobbying from the cigar industry. The new rules don't seek to curb the use of kid-friendly flavors, either:
But the new blueprint was also notable for what it did not contain: any proposal to ban flavors in e-cigarettes and cigars, like bubble gum and grape, that public health experts say lure children to use the products, or any move to restrict the marketing of e-cigarettes, as is done for traditional cigarettes, which are banned from television, for example.
We'll know plenty more tomorrow, when the FDA gives us a clearer picture of what it's proposing. And that's just the beginning: Then, the public will have 75 days to "comment" on the proposal, at which point the agency will begin finalizing the rules. According to the NYT, that could take months. So pull up a chair and fire up your e-cig—this is going to be a long slog. [The New York Times]