Surprise: FDA To Propose New Regs On E-cigs, Require ID For Purchase


Whoa, whoa, whoa, isn’t that racist?

(NY Times) The Food and Drug Administration will propose sweeping new rules on Thursday that for the first time would extend its regulatory authority from cigarettes to electronic cigarettes, popular nicotine delivery devices that have grown into a multibillion-dollar business with virtually no federal oversight or protections for American consumers.

The regulatory blueprint, with broad implications for public health, the tobacco industry and the nation’s 42 million smokers, would also cover pipe tobacco and cigars, tobacco products that have long slid under the regulatory radar and whose use has risen sharply in recent years. The new regulations would ban the sale of e-cigarettes, cigars and pipe tobacco to Americans under 18, and would require that people buying them show photo identification to prove their age, measures already mandated in a number of states.

I proclaim the FDA to be a racist organization for requiring ID!

Once finalized, the regulations will establish oversight of what has been a market free-for-all of products, including vials of liquid nicotine of varying quality and unknown provenance. It has taken the agency four years since Congress passed a major tobacco-control law in 2009 to get to this stage, and federal officials and advocates say it will take at least another year for the rules to take effect – and possibly significantly longer if affected companies sue to block them.

Manufacturers will have to get FDA approval for all e-liquids and e-cigs. The latter is silly: there is really very little to an e-cig. I can almost see making sure that e-liquid has some oversight to make sure it doesn’t contain dangerous material. Basic standards.

Perhaps the biggest proposed change would require producers of cigars and e-cigarettes to register with the F.D.A., provide the agency with a detailed accounting of their products’ ingredients and disclose their manufacturing processes and scientific data. Producers would also be subject to F.D.A. inspections.

I don’t have a problem with that. That is a proper role of Government.

But the new blueprint was also notable for what it did not contain: any proposal to ban flavors in e-cigarettes and cigars, like bubble gum and grape, that public health experts say lure children to use the products, or any move to restrict the marketing of e-cigarettes, as is done for traditional cigarettes, which are banned from television, for example.

But

F.D.A. officials said the new regulations were the first major step toward asserting the agency’s authority and eventually being able to regulate flavors and marketing. But doing so will require further federal rulemaking, they said.

The question is, how far does the FDA go? If they use a light touch, like a safecracker or a pickpocket, everything is good. That’s what they should do, especially in the absence of scientific data. If they take a heavy approach, which will stifle innovation and destroy small businesses, while favoring deep pocketed big companies, there’ll be a problem.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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