Just yesterday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) threatened the $2-billion tobacco industry with a no-minors-allowed ban on e-cigarette sales. If the ban is approved, this will be the first time that this industry has ever been regulated on a federal level. But public health advocates question the new rules’ effectiveness. Chris Bostic, the Deputy Director for Policy at Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), points out a major gap that has went unaddressed:
“The biggest gaps are they’re not going to ban candy flavorings in e-cigarettes and they’re not going to do anything to regulate the marketing of e-cigarettes on television, radio and print ads. So they’re some major gaps that could be a big threat to public health.”
Advocates have another major concern with e-cigarettes: It serves as a gateway to conventional cigarettes for the younger generation. With enticing flavors drawing the young and impressionable closer, a transition from e-cigarettes to conventional cigarettes is no more than a turn around the block. Also, there are so many unknown factors with electronic devices, such as their long-term health effects. Do e-cigarette users really know what they’re getting themselves into?
Chris Bostic adds, “We spent the last 40 years in this country trying to de-normalize smoking, first by banning cigarette ads in the early 70s on radio and television, but with e-cigarettes, we’ve got those ads back on the air, and they look just like the ads from the 50s and 60s. It’s making cigarettes a normal public behavior again.”
Among a slew of other things, companies would be banned from giving out free e-cigarette samples, and forget about those e-cigarette vending machines. Under the new FDA ban, those would be limited to strictly adult venues.
Fortunately for the companies, the rules aren’t quite as restrictive as they feared… The change will take years to become fully effective.