The FDA on Thursday issued long-awaited new regulations for tobacco products, extending its regulatory authority into e-cigarettes, hookah tobacco, nicotine gels, and all cigars.
The agency called the sweeping new regulations "a milestone in consumer protection" and staked out the ground to regulate any new tobacco product placed on the market.
The new rules go into effect Aug. 8.
The new rules significantly expand the FDA's regulatory authority over tobacco to cover several unregulated products, including e-cigarettes. They also prohibit the sale of those tobacco products to anyone under 18 and build the path to regulate any new tobacco products that come to market.
The move represents the first major U.S. regulation of e-cigarettes, vaping pens and similar products, although some states already have regulations in place. In a statement, Matthew L. Myers, the president of the Campaign for tobacco-Free Kids, called the move "a critical first step -- but only a first step."
The rule "falls short in protecting kids from e-cigarettes. It does nothing to restrict the irresponsible marketing of e-cigarettes or the use of sweet e-cigarette flavors such as gummy bear and cotton candy, despite the FDA’s own data showing that flavors play a major role in the skyrocketing youth use of e-cigarettes," he said.
The action comes a few weeks after the House Appropriations Committee approved a measure that could ease some FDA regulations on e-cigarettes. In late April, the Department of Transportation was sued by several interest groups seeking to overturn a ban on e-cigarette use on flights.