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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday issued a new 499-page rule regulating the sale of e-cigarettes, hookah tobacco, and premium cigars. Under the new rule, the feds would “have to approve all tobacco products not currently regulated that hit stores after February 2007,” reports USA Today.
The rule also bans the sale of e-cigarettes to people under the age of 18.
E-cigs, devices used to inhale vaporized nicotine and flavorings that do not contain tobacco, have grown into a multibillion dollar business with little to no federal oversight until now. But as they’ve risen in popularity, they have become the subject of a fierce debate over health effects and regulation. Proponents of the flavored vapors say they are not as dangerous as tobacco-filled cigarettes,and can even help smokers quit. Those in favor of federal regulation, including the American Lung Association, say any time a person inhales something there is a health risk.
E-cigarettes are especially popular with younger consumers, and business owners are afraid the new rule will hurt their sales with that demographic. Additionally, the regulation process could costs businesses $1 million or more, as essentially every e-cigarette on the market — and every nicotine flavor — requires a separate federal application, reports USA Today.
According to the New York Times, the application requires producers to detail “their products’ ingredients, and disclose their manufacturing processes and scientific data.”
There is currently a bill circulating in the House to exempt “popular e-cigarettes and cigar varieties” from the rule. The bill would prevent the FDA from retroactive regulations.