FDA: The Sheriff is in Town

wildwildwest3The long-awaited sheriff has come to town in the “wild, wild west” of tobacco control.

Today, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed new regulations that would bring a semblance of order to the current marketplace for e-cigarettes and extend its authority over other tobacco products that have not yet been regulated.

This is only the first step. Before the FDA can regulate the flavors and marketing of e-cigarettes, the agency first needed to bring e-cigarettes under their authority.

We applaud the federal government’s decision to follow New York City’s lead in prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to children. Also, keeping e-cigarettes out of certain vending machines will keep them out of the hands of our children. E-cigarette companies will no longer be allowed to distribute free samples as well.

If these new rules are approved, e-cigarettes will be required to carry health warnings (only about the risk of addiction) and manufacturers will finally need to disclose ingredients. We trust that FDA regulations will lead to manufacturing standards and a clear understanding about the health effects.

Dr. Margaret Hamburg

Dr. Margaret Hamburg

FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg said, “We will have the authority as a science-based regulatory agency to take critical actions to promote and protect the health of the public.”

The FDA is asking for public comment on their proposed regulations, but it’s also asking for comments on whether all cigars should be treated the same. It’s also asking the public whether cigars with filters and tips and cigars that are machine-made or wrapped in something other than a whole tobacco leaf should be regulated differently.

As we see it, a cigar is always a cigar.  All cigars are tobacco products and should be regulated by the FDA. Let’s hope that science and reason overrule Big Tobacco.

We hope the FDA moves swiftly and ultimately turns its effort to regulate how and to whom e-cigarettes are marketed. If the sheriff is in town, let’s hope he (or she) fully exercises regulatory authority.