Your e-cig is now under a whole new gamut of rules.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced May 5 that all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, fall under the same regulations surrounding traditional tobacco products.
That means on Aug. 3, 2016 vendors must not sell tobacco products to people younger than 18 years old, must check IDs and must register and report all products and ingredients with the FDA. The new rules also extend to hookah products and cigars.
According to a press release from the FDA, there were no federal laws keeping youth from buying e-cigs, which the release states is the point of the new rule.
In Utah, the use of e-cigs by youth in Utah increased by “fivefold” between 2011 and 2014, according to the Brittany Karzen, Marketing & Media Coordinator for The Utah Health Department’s Tobacco Prevention & Control Program.
“As a health department we are currently working through reading it trying to understand exactly how that’s going to impact the rules that would go in place here in Utah,” Karzen said.
The health department is working with the Attorney General’s Office to appropriately mesh rules passed by the Utah State Legislature in recent years with the FDA rules.
In 2015, Rep. Paul Ray, R-Ogden, sponsored and passed a bill that increased the purchase age for e-cigs to 19 and required all vendors to get a license from the state, make e-juice bottle with childproof caps and tamper-evident seals, and label all e-juices with batch numbers for tracking.
“Generally speaking, we know that there is not enough data on e-cigarettes to know their long-term health effects,” Karzen said. “We do know that the nicotine in them is bad for developing brains.”
For many the new regulations call the health effects of e-cigarettes to question.
According Karzen, several people use e-cigarettes to try and quit combustible tobacco. She noted that the evidence so far for e-cigs as a quitting mechanism is usually anecdotal and not supported by research.
She further questions the effect of e-cigs when data from Utah shows that 66 percent of e-cig users also smoke combustibles.
She said that the health department’s primary concern is keeping e-cigs out of the hands of children. She claimed that most smokers and e-cig users started before they were 19 years old and that the earlier a person starts smoking the greater the difficulty of quitting later.
Studies by the health department show that the young adult, 18- to 24-year-olds, are the group that have experimented with e-cigs the most with about 25 percent polled claiming to have experimented with e-cigs.
The same studies show that about 23 percent and 10 percent of students studied in 8th, 10th and 12th grades tried e-cigs or used in the last 30 days, respectively.
Looking forward, Karzen said that any enforcement of FDA standards is currently unclear. It’s also unclear if any of the FDA rules will preempt the state rules. However, she is confident that the haze will clear on the issue with time.
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