The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reportedly pushing for a rule that would establish its authority over electronic cigarettes. There are concerns that the e-cigarettes are starting to pose a heightened risk to children.
The electronic cigarette is a device that looks like the real thing, but works off of batteries and power plugs. The nicotine is supplied in the through vaporized water, and comes in different concentrations depending on the consumer’s taste. They differ enough from real cigarettes that laws don’t cover them.
“It has been taking too long for this to move,” Commissioner of the FDA, Margaret Hamburg said of the proposed rule being pushed at a Congressional budget hearing. She also mentioned that she hopes and expects that the proposal will be ready soon.
The rule is under examination by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The organization has been reviewing the rule proposal for nearly half a year and it has not been said when the assessment will be completed. Meanwhile, public health advocates and lawmakers are pushing for a prompt release of the rule proposal by FDA with the argument that the sweet flavors in e-cigarettes may be addicting to children.
Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon apparently agrees, saying that the FDA’s delays in dealing with the electronic cigarette issue was disgraceful, arguing that the sweet flavors including strawberry and tutti-frutti were a devious strategy to get children addicted to nicotine.
Thomas Carr, director of national policy at the American Lung Association, stated that they want to include e-cigarettes in the same classification as regular cigarettes. If they are put into the same category, then states would treat electronic cigarettes the same as regular ones under existing laws.
“We only want them to be included in the tobacco product’s definition,” Carr said. “Anything else does not have to change.”
“The e-cigarette is supposed to be a good alternative to smoking regular cigarettes,” stated Eric Criss, president and chief executive of the Electronic Cigarette Industry Group. “The goal is to differentiate e-cigarettes from that of the real ones.”
“E-cigarettes are for adult smokers. The product is for adult consumers,” said Cynthia Cabrera, executive director of the Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association. “It is not supposed to be seen as a gateway to other things, or for those younger than a certain age to be using them.”
Four states have sided with health advocates and the FDA’s pushed rule proposal, and have already included e-cigarettes in indoor smoking bans, including Utah, North Dakota, Arkansas and New Jersey. Nine other states, including Colorado, New York, Tennessee and Wyoming have already placed e-cigarettes into the classification of tobacco product.
2009 was when the first e-cigarette bills were introduced. Since then, 25 different states and the District of Columbia have passed measures defining and regulating the sale of them. Commissioner Hamburg said of the proposed rule pushed by the FDA about e-cigarettes, “We do think that this is a matter that needs more attention to the and requires more action done.”
By Jessica Cooley