Should electronic cigarettes be sold to children? The Food and Drug Administration says no and has announced historic rules to ban sales of the popular devices to minors and require warning labels.
The FDA wants to regulate more than the booming electronic cigarette market. It is seizing on this opportunity to also restrict sales of cigars, hookahs, water pipes and dissolvable tobacco products.
The proposed rules (attached below) would be the first restrictions on e-cigarettes, a nearly $2 billion industry that for years has operated outside the reach of federal regulators. E-cigarettes have been growing in popularity for years and generally attract younger smokers.
The proposed rules won't ban advertising unless the products make health-related claims. Child-friendly e-cigarette flavors like bubble gum and chocolate (which are banned in traditional cigarettes) will still be allowed. Critics say flavorings like watermelon, grape soda and piña colada are aimed at attracting young smokers.
E-cigarettes generally resemble the size and shape of traditional cigarettes. But rather than burning tobacco, the battery-powered devices heat up a flavored, nicotine-laced liquid, turning it into a vapor that the user inhales. Industry supporters say that makes e-cigarettes preferable to other cancer-causing tobacco products.