Last spring, the Food and Drug Administration released a regulatory proposal for electronic cigarettes, but so far, no official rules have been authorized. However, the FDA is obviously still toying with the idea because this week, they announced the intention to regulate e-liquids. The FDA claimed that the growing number of nicotine poisonings has warranted the agency to step in and take action.
According to the official announcement, the FDA is mulling whether “It would be appropriate for the protection of the public health to warn the public about the dangers of nicotine exposure” and “require that some tobacco products be sold in child-resistant packaging.”
New regulations for liquid nicotine would impact a handful of novelty tobacco products, but it is primarily targeting e-liquids used to refill e-cigarettes. The eliquid and ecig industry has grown rapidly in the past five years and is now estimated to be worth $2.1 billion per year. Some experts believe ecigs will eventually outsell traditional tobacco cigarettes. While this seems like a cause for celebration, it has turned into a case for regulation for the FDA.
At this time, the FDA has not given specific information about their regulatory plans for eliquids, but they are open to public comments on the issue for the next 60 days. This is an importantly opportunity for the vaping community to step up and share their positive experiences with ecigs so that regulators can truly understand the potential for ecigs to help tobacco users kick the habit.
The FDA could potentially restrict advertising, require graphic warning labels, and even eliminate flavors. This could be a potential nightmare if the anti-ecig movement wins. Susan Liss, the executive director for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids praised the FDA for taking action, but urged them to move quickly and with finality. “We’re pleased that the FDA is taking this step, but this is not a replacement for quickly issuing a final, strong deeming rule that regulates all tobacco products and addresses flavors and marketing,” she said.
Vaping activists are fighting hard to protect the rights of ecig users across the United States. Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, said that most eliquids are already packaged in child resistant labeling, but he is concerned about the potential required warning labels. “Poorly designed warning labels have the capacity to mislead adult smokers on the relative risks of vaping versus tobacco smoking,” he explained. “Any proposed warning must be thoroughly tested to ensure that it only imparts factual information.”
The FDA has posed more than two dozen questions to the public and will collect responses for the next 60 days. They are asking what language people believe is appropriate for warning labels and whether the labels should include graphic photo warnings like tobacco labels. They are also posing questions about child-resistant packaging and advertising measures.
For now, we will have to wait and see what the FDA’s next move will be. In all likelihood, we are still months away from any real regulations, but this is a dire warning that officials are still moving in that direction. Does the FDA’s interest in ecigs concern you? Do you think eliquid regulations are needed?