RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – This week the FDA made a landmark move to begin the regulation of e-cigarettes.
The Food and Drug Administration issued sweeping new rules that for the first time extend federal regulatory authority to e-cigarettes, banning their sale to anyone under 18 and requiring that adults under the age of 26 show a photo identification to buy them.
Health experts have been concerned about the long-term effects of e-cigarette use since their introduction around 10 years ago. Almost 9 million Americans are using them. While there is no data on the long-term effects, most experts agree that they are likely less harmful than traditional cigarettes. E-cigarettes contain nicotine, the addictive chemical in traditional cigarettes.
A typical battery-operated e-cigarette contains a cartridge of e-cigarette liquid – which usually contains the nicotine and the chemical propylene glycol. Cigarettes come in an array of flavors – which may attract younger users. When used, the battery powers an atomizer that vaporizes the liquid in the cartridge for the user to inhale. Nicotine can increase blood pressure, heart rate and can produce anxiety. The Nicotine content in e-cigarettes varies and can be higher than in regular cigarettes. In patients with underlying heart disease this chemical can precipitate cardiac events.
Rebecca Williams at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center did some influential research on the issue and has been involved in the field for 16 years. The new guidelines will require manufacturers to prove the safety of their products. The new FDA rules will be enforced in 90 days. These new regulations will have a huge impact on public health and the tobacco industry.
E-cigarette/vapor producers will now be required to register with the FDA. Each manufacturer must provide the FDA with a detailed account of their product’s specific ingredients and how they make each product. Producers will have to apply to the FDA for permission to sell their products. That includes vape shops that mix their own e-cigarette liquid, many of which are in North Carolina.
Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death in the U.S. today. There are more than 480,000 tobacco-related deaths each year and currently 40 million American adults continue to smoke cigarettes.
Many experts worry that e-cigarettes will lead to more traditional cigarette use, particularly by minors. Others argue that e-cigarettes make it easier for traditional smokers to quit. The majority of the data at this point suggests that e-cigarettes actually lead to dual use. The biggest concern is that we limit smoking by young people.
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