May 5, 2016 — The FDA announced that it has expanded its own authority to regulate e-cigarettes, in a sweeping move sure to upend the industry.
A new rule goes into effect in 90 days that will ban the sale of e-cigarettes to people under age 18, require age verification by photo ID, banning sales in vending machines, and no free samples.
The FDA said manufacturers must submit an application proving that tobacco products brought to market after February 15, 2007 meet public health standards. They have two years to submit the application and another year while the FDA reviews.
The rule also applies to hookah, pipe tobacco, and cigars, but most of those products will be “grandfathered” in because they have been on the market for decades. The vaping industry was virtually non-existent before 2007.
The new rules could send the $3 billion industry underground. Analysts estimate that more than half of e-cigarette sales occur over the internet and at specialty vape shops.
However, big tobacco companies are also in the game. As vaping continues to outpace smoking, these companies are well-positioned to take over the market if smaller competitors go out of business.
In a potentially controversial move, each individual flavor and intensity of every e-cigarette product must file a separate approval application, which could cost upwards of $1 million, e-cigarette advocate Jeff Stier told USA Today
This could also be the end of flavoring chemicals in e-cigarette liquids.
Last year, researchers at Harvard tested 51 flavored vapes and found that 76% contained diacetyl, a chemical linked to the chronic lung disease “Popcorn Lung.” The disease, also known as bronchiolitis obliterans, scars tiny air sacs in the lungs, causing excessive coughing and shortness of breath.
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