Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Washington Post: FDA needs to move on e-cigarettes

The Washington Post

The Washington Post

First Published Apr 28 2014 07:58 am • Last Updated Apr 28 2014 07:58 am

In 2009, Congress gave the Food and Drug Administration wide authority to oversee tobacco products. The agency has moved cautiously in flexing that power. On Thursday, for the first time, the FDA "deemed" several tobacco products to be under its watch, including cigars, pipe tobacco, nicotine gels, hookahs and e-cigarettes. This move is welcome, if overdue. The FDA now has to conduct the tricky work of figuring out when further restrictions, particularly on e-cigarettes, help and when they might actually harm public health.

As long as the FDA steers clear of direct regulation of products other than cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and roll-your-own tobacco, public health advocates rightly worry that potential smokers — particularly children and teenagers — will find it easier or more appealing to use unregulated products with varying or unknown public health effects. The agency says that expanding its oversight, which Congress gave it the power to do, is the first, "foundational" step toward broad regulation of these alternatives to cigarettes.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

The FDA is demanding some concrete steps of manufacturers upfront. They will have to register their products with the agency and reveal their ingredients. They will have to attach warning labels. Many vending machines will become off-limits. And the federal government will ban e-cigarette sales to minors. Once regulators gather more information on the harm various products can cause and on how people are obtaining and using them, they can do more in the interest of public health, such as consider bans on Internet sales, candy-like flavorings or certain kinds of marketing.

The FDA is also accepting feedback on whether to exempt "premium" cigars from regulation, since people often do not smoke them habitually. That strikes us as unnecessary, because cigars, too, can do harm. If regulators determine that premium cigars do not pose the same public health risks as other products, they can keep the demands on their manufacturers relatively light.

But for one product there is good reason for caution. E-cigarettes, which deliver a nicotine-laced vapor that presumably contains many fewer harmful ingredients than tobacco smoke, could help addicted, lifetime smokers to reduce their consumption or quit. On the other hand, e-cigarette use among young people is soaring, and there is concern that it might be a gateway to conventional smoking.

Unlike with many other nicotine-containing products, the FDA has to determine how to keep e-cigarettes available to those who might benefit from them while minimizing their capacity to hook young people or encourage continued smoking. Thursday’s announcement is just the beginning of that process.




Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.