In the past five years alone, the number of high school kids using e-cigarettes has jumped up 900%. This astronomical increase caught the FDA’s attention and new regulations will take effect to help combat teen tobacco use.
While the FDA has regulatory authority over traditional cigarettes, other tobacco products like e-cigarettes have long been outside the FDA’s grasp. In May, the FDA finalized a rule that would extend its authority to all tobacco products. The FDA is eager to address public health concerns over tobacco products, specifically youth access to tobacco.
Any store selling e-cigarettes, hookahs, cigars, or other tobacco products is now prohibited from selling these products to people under the age 18. All vendors must verify age with photo ID and they are not allowed to distribute free samples.
The Secretary of the United States Department of Health & Human Services explains that tobacco products like e-cigarettes are “creating a new generation of Americans who are at risk of addiction.”
While the FDA expands its authority in some areas, its authority is shrinking in others. The FDA recently announced it will not regulate general wellness devices like fitness trackers and health apps. The FDA considers these devices low risk, so the agency determined the devices were not worth regulating.
However, for devices that are considered high risk, the FDA is struggling to understand the best way to regulate them. 3D printed medical devices are on the forefront of medical technology, but the FDA lacks the industry knowledge to best regulate them. In an effort to obtain expert opinions, the FDA opened up proposed regulations for comments, but has only drummed up three comments so far.
While the FDA is trying to make improvements to better protect consumers, there is still plenty of room for change. Hopefully the regulation of all tobacco products will be the first of many changes to improve public health in America.