The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued sweeping new rules today affecting the nascent electronic cigarette industry, including banning sales to people younger than 18 and requiring that all products receive regulatory approval.
The rules had been anticipated by e-cigarette makers, some of whom worry that the requirement that products obtain federal approval would be too expensive for them, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Some e-cig people are taking the rules in stride. “We do not sell to people under 18 and we card people who come into the shop,” says Kim Huff, assistant manager at AVAIL Vapor’s Carytown store.
The firm also has gotten rid of some of its highest nicotine products, she says, and has improved its containers for potential harmful chemicals.
Vaping has grown quickly into a $3.5 billion industry. Proponents say that it provides addictive nicotine without the cancer-causing smoke. Opponents claim that vaping can lead users into deadly cigarette smoking and that some of the e-cigarette devices can be easily broken and toxic nicotine can fall into the wrong hands. It has been shown to be deadly to young children.
Until recently, the e-cigarette business was largely unregulated. Some of the early products were imported from China where safety could be spotty. E-cigarette makers say they have become more sophisticated in their manufacturing.
The bulk of the industry consists of small producers and sales outlets. Tobacco behemoths such as Philip Morris USA, based in Richmond, make and sell e-cigarette products but were late getting into the market because of concerns over regulation.