The U.S. on Thursday banned the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in sweeping new rules regarding other tobacco products.
Essentially, the FDA extended its regulations concerning the sale of cigarettes to electronic cigarettes, commonly called e-cigarettes, vaporizers or vapes.
It also applied new rules to cigars as well as hookah and pipe tobacco. While many states had already banned the sale of these products to anyone under the age of 18, there was never a federal law against it until Thursday.
“We have more to do to help protect Americans from the dangers of tobacco and nicotine, especially our youth, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, said in a statement. “As cigarette smoking among those under 18 has fallen, the use of other nicotine products, including e-cigarettes, has taken a drastic leap. All of this is creating a new generation of Americans who are at risk of addiction.”
The type of e-cigarette commonly used around the world was originally invented in China in 2003. Since then, the use of the products has risen exponentially.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes 2.4 million middle and high school students in the United States are perpetual e-cigarette users.
Health issues associated with e-cigarettes are not well known, however, because the products contain nicotine but not many other harmful chemicals associated with smoking analog cigarettes.
Nicotine addiction may impact brain development but no long-term health problems are scientifically linked to e-cigarettes.
The new laws also mean e-cigarette makers will have to register all products with the federal government, a hurdle never before required.
“Today’s action by the FDA will do nothing to improve our nations’ public health objectives,” said Tony Abboud, national legislative director for industry group Vapor Technology Association. “To the contrary, today’s action will yank responsibly manufactured vapor products from the hands of adult smokers and replace them with the tobacco cigarettes they had been trying to give up,” he said in a statement.