Despite claims that e-cigarettes are “healthier” for consumers and help nicotine addicts wane off of real cigarettes, there’s been no government oversight of this continually growing market, and consumers still know little about the potentially harmful ingredients inside those vape pens. However, that changes today, as the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) announced a new rule expanding its cigarette regulation authority to all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cigars, hookah tobacco, and pipe tobacco.
For e-cigarette manufacturers, this means they’ll have a new set of production standards to meet, and they must send ingredient lists to the FDA.
The aerosolized vaporizer solution used in e-cigs and e-hookahs, of course, contains the nicotine that causes an addictive buzz. And it’s been argued that using e-cigarettes to slowly decrease the amount of nicotine has allowed long time smokers to quit entirely. E-liquid also, however, contains a range of undisclosed chemicals. Yes, there are flavorings, but the American Lung Association says various studies have found detectable levels of cancer-causing chemicals in some solutions, none of which are listed on product packaging, including a chemical found in antifreeze and a base mixture of propylene glycol.
Manufacturers can continue to sell their e-cig products during the two years in which FDA tobacco product applications are being submitted.
The FDA’s new rules also make it so e-cigarettes are illegal to sell to persons under the age of 18, prohibit the distribution of free samples (as is done at many music festivals), and requires manufacturers to include health warnings on e-cig packs. The age restriction will begin nationwide in 90 days.
There’s been a proliferation of e-cigarette users among middle and high school teens, and until now there’s been little knowledge about what’s going into their bodies. E-cigarette use among high school students has grown 900 percent in five years from one and a half percent of teens in 2011 to 16 percent in 2015, according to another one of the studies cited by the American Lung Association.
No matter who’s doing the vaping, the FDA will now have the authority to properly assess the ingredients – and thus the health effects – of the more than 500 brands and 7,700 flavors of e-cigarettes consumed today. With the new oversight, maybe e-cigs will soon become as healthy as they are unmistakingly cool.