In a Haze About e-Cigarettes? 5 Things to Know

John Watson


July 31, 2018

What's the Current Regulatory Environment for These Products?


The FDA is struggling with the issue of how to best regulate an e-cigarette industry that is currently a virtual Wild West.

The FDA only began regulating e-cigarettes as tobacco products in 2016.[30] An order that e-cigarette companies must submit a costly premarket tobacco application to keep them on market was pushed back to 2022, eliciting protest from several professional medical societies.

The FDA has recently taken a more aggressive approach with the producers of e-cigarette products whom they accuse of marketing to children and teens. In a self-described "undercover blitz," the agency targeted online and retail stores and warned 13 companies whose products used "kid-friendly" packaging that could easily be mistaken for candy or juice.[31] Around the same time, 11 US senators issued a letter of warning to the makers of Juul for their perceived marketing to children, and urged the FDA to take action.[32]

In practice, regulation may have an impact. States known to have more robust tobacco control policies (eg, taxes on cigarettes, laws against open-air smoking) are also the ones with the lowest rates of e-cigarette users.[33]

If e-cigarette trends continue in the way they have been going in adolescents, the FDA may need to wade deeper into this industry still.

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