WASHINGTON DC (April 24, 2014)– The Food and Drug Administration took its first steps toward regulating e-cigarettes on Thursday.
The agency proposed a list of rules, that include only making the product available to people ages 18 and up. There would also be a warning label about nicotine addiction, in addition to companies registering their products with the FDA to get approval.
But, for some health professionals, the big focus is on the younger generations. What you won’t find on the agency’s list of regulations are flavored products and advertisement.
Two things Dr. Glenn Vanotteren, a pulmonary critical care physician with Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids said, are aimed at kids.
“One could argue that such a powerful drug, in a way that you could buy over the counter, is an invitation for a young person to get addicted to this drug and can lead to years of abuse that could be even accelerated beyond nicotine,” Vanotteren said.
For 20 years, Dr. Vanotteren has specialized in caring for cancer patients. During that time, he said he’s recommended products like e-cigarettes to help ween smokers off tobacco.
“There are benefits….I’ve certainly had patients myself who’ve been able to successfully quit using the e-cigarette where they’ve had no successes with other products…so that’s great to see,” Dr. Vanotteren said.
Still, it’s a device Dr. Vanotteren said should be used on a limited basis.
“This can contain nicotine and it’s a very toxic drug,” he said. “It can be absorbed through the skin and you can overdose on it simply with an accidental spill.”
Regulation for e-cigarettes has been talked about for years. In 2009, the FDA worked towards classifying them as “medical devices” to restrict sales. But, a federal court struck that down the following year.
That’s when the FDA switched gears, saying it could issue rules based on the authority the administration has from Congress to regulate tobacco products.
Even though Dr. Vanotteren said the FDA is taking appropriate measures in making an effort to put some regulations on the product, he said there’s more that should be done about how e-cigarettes are portrayed.
“When you look at how it’s marketed, it’s very appealing to young people, very colorful, they add flavors,” Dr. Vanotteren said. “There’s no question the industry has looked at this and they’re targeting, although they will say they aren’t, the younger population.”
The proposal has a 75 day comment period where the public and the industry will get to weigh in on the rules.