Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

FDA E-Cigarette Rules: Public Protection or Industry Suffocation?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

FDA E-Cigarette Rules: Public Protection or Industry Suffocation?

Article excerpt

After years of wrangling between electronic cigarette manufacturers and those calling for stricter controls, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released Thursday a long-awaited series of rules that will haul the industry under federal oversight.

The fresh regulations will restrict sales to minors and implement new health warnings, but the aspect stoking most controversy is a requirement for all electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, launched since 2007 - the vast majority of the market - to undergo federal review.

The multi-billion-dollar e-cigarette industry has at times been the subject of both praise, for helping people quit traditional cigarettes, and condemnation, for potentially sucking youngsters into the world of nicotine, and many have called for a more thorough examination of the potential health benefits and costs.

"We have more to do to help protect Americans from the dangers of tobacco and nicotine, especially our youth," said Sylvia Burwell, secretary of the US Department of Health & Human Services, in a statement released by the FDA. "As cigarette smoking among those under 18 has fallen, the use of other nicotine products, including e- cigarettes, has taken a drastic leap. All of this is creating a new generation of Americans who are at risk of addiction."

E-cigarettes were originally touted as stepping stones for smokers on the road away from addiction, and they afford the undisputed benefit of providing the nicotine of traditional cigarettes without the attendant chemicals and tar of burning tobacco.

Indeed, in a 2015 report commissioned by Public Health England, an agency that advises the British government, experts found that "best estimates show e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful to your health than normal cigarettes."

In response, the British government's chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, said she wanted to see e-cigarettes arriving on the market only as "licensed medicines."

"This would provide assurance on the safety, quality and efficacy to consumers who want to use these products as quitting aids, especially in relation to the flavorings used, which is where we know least about any inhalation risks," Dame Sally told the Guardian, cautioning that "there continues to be a lack of evidence on the long-term use of e-cigarettes," and they should only be used by smokers seeking to quit. …

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