Washington: In a first move to rein in the burgeoning electronic cigarette industry, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the US has laid out proposals to regulate tobacco products that include e-cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco and hookah tobacco.
The FDA proposal would prohibit the sale of the newly-designated tobacco products, including 'e-cigarettes', to those younger than 18 years old.
“It would also require health warnings on tobacco products, and for the FDA to review those products before they are marketed,” the US health agency said in a press release.
E-cigarettes, which contain nicotine extracted from tobacco leaves, have been hailed by some as a safer alternative to cigarettes and smoking.
However, some worry that unfettered marketing of these pseudo-cigarettes would attract new users - particularly children - to the world of tobacco products.
In 2013, researchers at the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention found that e-cigarette use by middle and high school children had doubled between 2011 and 20121, said a Nature report.
The FDA proposal is open to public comment for 75 days and a final ruling may be issued after those comments have been reviewed.
“We are eager to see this process move forward,” FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg was quoted as saying.
The FDA is also evaluating whether it should limit the flavours being marketed: e-cigarettes, for example, come in candy-flavoured options that may be particularly appealing to children.
“One key benefit of the FDA’s proposal is that it would require manufacturers of e-cigarettes to report the ingredients in their products,” said Vaughan Rees from Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts.
Some studies have found traces of heavy metals and other contaminants in e-cigarettes, he noted in the Nature report.