FDA set to regulate e-cigs — and cigars, pipe tobacco

posted at 8:36 am on April 24, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Do e-cigarettes cause more harm than good? Are teens buying them and getting hooked on traditional tobacco products with e-cigs as a gateway, or are these alternatives a great way to kick the habit? Anti-tobacco activists have been pressing the FDA for years to get involved, and they have finally proposed their first rules for the market:

The Food and Drug Administration will for the first time regulate the booming market of electronic cigarettes, as well as cigars, pipe tobacco and hookahs, under a proposal to be released Thursday.

The move would begin to place restrictions on e-cigarettes, a nearly $2 billion industry thatfor years has operated outside the reach of federal regulators. If adopted, the government’s plan would force manufacturers to curb sales to minors, stop handing out free samples, place health warning labels on their products and disclose the ingredients. Makers of e-cigarettes also would be banned from making health-related claims without scientific evidence.

The FDA isn’t exactly rushing into regulatory oversight. Congress passed a law five years ago that gave the FDA the authority to create regulatory oversight into e-cigarettes and other tobacco products, but they’ve only now proposed their first rules for the industry. That has been a source of frustration for activists:

Congress passed a law in 2009 giving the FDA broad power to regulate cigarettes, including requirements for new warning labels, restrictions on ads and explicit approval of new products. The law also gave the FDA the authority to broaden its jurisdiction over other tobacco-related products. While the agency has long indicated that it planned to do just that, action has been slow in coming.

“In the absence of any meaningful regulation, the e-cigarette manufacturers have acted as if it’s the wild, wild West, with no rules and no restraints,” said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, who had not seen the particulars of the FDA proposal. “Their advertising is exactly the same type of advertising that made cigarettes so appealing to young people” decades ago.

The “wild, wild West”? Pardon me if my recollection is a bit off, but the wild in the wild wild West didn’t refer to a lack of FDA oversight. The product has not gotten regulatory attention, or arguably enough research into its health impacts, but that’s hardly the same thing as anarchy and violence. It’s that kind of hyperbole that makes most Americans skeptical of the motives behind the push to expand regulation, even where an arguably rational basis exists.

Including cigars and pipe tobacco in the effort makes skepticism even more understandable. E-cigs are a relatively new phenomenon that might require more study, but that’s not true of cigars — even those sold with fruit flavoring, which to this occasional cigar smoker sounds awful. Nor is it true of pipe tobacco or hookah products. Those categories of tobacco do not (usually) get inhaled and do not have the same kind of massive consumption that cigarettes do.

Furthermore, it’s a little odd that the FDA is choosing to crack down on all of these at the precise moment that states are moving to legalize medicinal and recreational marijuana, which gets deeply inhaled and is hallucinogenic to boot. Yes, this is a federal effort and those are states making legalization choices, but the voter impulse on consumables is decidedly libertarian these days. Is that so difficult to notice in the Beltway?


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Hey, Ed, you’re missing an important piece. According to the NY Times article, the FDA will require government issued photo ID to purchase the tobacco, cigars, and e-cig supplies.

Obviously, requiring ID is burdensome and racist!

William Teach on April 24, 2014 at 8:39 AM

Hooey!

workingclass artist on April 24, 2014 at 8:40 AM

I guess it’s time to stock the humidor with cigars before the FDA reguates the destruction of another industry…

Doomsday on April 24, 2014 at 8:50 AM

the FDA will require government issued photo ID to purchase the tobacco, cigars, and e-cig supplies.

Obviously, requiring ID is burdensome and racist!

William Teach on April 24, 2014 at 8:39 AM

William Teach: Photo ID in America,….just wait till Holder hears
that!:)

canopfor on April 24, 2014 at 8:57 AM

I like a good cigar on rare occasions, I would like to grow my own tobacco if it wasn’t such a royal PITA and if the weather here were better.

Bishop on April 24, 2014 at 9:00 AM

I’ve never smoked a day in my life, but I don’t get this attack on e-cigs. To me, they seem great. There’s no stench on my clothes from hanging out with smokers and my friends are less likely to get mouth, throat and lung cancer.

Oh wait a minute, I get it: this is about the government’s haunting fear that somewhere, someone might be doing something that they don’t yet control.

Physics Geek on April 24, 2014 at 9:03 AM

FDA set to regulate e-cigs…

Water Vapor……

Global Warming!!!!!!!!

We are all going to die!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Electrongod on April 24, 2014 at 9:05 AM

How do they regulate hookahs? These are device. Are they going to look at all kinds of pipes or just the ones that use water or vapor (in the case of e-cigs)? Seems silly. In the case of hookahs, people will continue to build their own with chemistry and plumbing equipment.

rhombus on April 24, 2014 at 9:19 AM

But they look like real smoking, which we know is the worst thing since the invention of the internal combustion engine. So, we must do something….. for the children.

B4B on April 24, 2014 at 9:21 AM

Let’s hear it for one more example of social engineering.

Another step to improve your life according to someone else’s opinion.

irongrampa on April 24, 2014 at 9:26 AM

Congress passed a law…

I don’t know why those four words are what really stood out to me.

JellyToast on April 24, 2014 at 9:26 AM

Electrongod on April 24, 2014 at 9:05 AM

Shouldn’t it be the EPA regulating e-cigs? Egad, they can’t even keep their fascisms straight…..

rhombus on April 24, 2014 at 9:19 AM

I wonder – are they merely looking at “e-cigs”? Or are they looking at “vapes”, too? Because they are not the same, according to my son.

GWB on April 24, 2014 at 9:28 AM

Simply another way for government to control and tax.
Way back in time we revolted against a monarch and won.
Look at us now, under the thumb of tyranny, which in my opinion is worse today than 238 years ago.
Will we ever get back to our God given right of freedom from tyrannical government?

woodhull on April 24, 2014 at 9:30 AM

I wonder when the FDA will decide to become involved with “medical marijuana?”

spd rdr on April 24, 2014 at 9:48 AM

The feds are losing their tax revenue due to fewer Americans smoking. I suppose they have to recoup it somehow.

knutsandvolts on April 24, 2014 at 10:02 AM

Anti-tobacco activists?
There is no tobacco in e-cigs. Shouldn’t that be anti-vapor activists?

Place health warning labels?
There is no health danger to warn about, no scientific evidence.

Force manufacturers to curb sales to minors?
They are already doing this voluntarily.

Free samples? Really, we need the force of government to protect us against free samples?

This is the real problem -a nearly $2 billion industry that for years has operated outside the reach of federal regulators-
They want to reach in and tax the he11 out of it.

Trucorgi on April 24, 2014 at 10:11 AM

Smoke ‘em, if you got’ em…. for now.

NewyoricanInTheSouth on April 24, 2014 at 10:17 AM

Next will be regulations on Porta-Potty emissions!
Can you say: Ex-Pat?

HIltonHeadGuy on April 24, 2014 at 10:20 AM

Over regulation totally out of hand.
As someone who travels globally the term, “Expat” is getting more enticing.

HIltonHeadGuy on April 24, 2014 at 10:22 AM

If adopted, the government’s plan would force manufacturers to curb sales to minors, stop handing out free samples, place health warning labels on their products and disclose the ingredients. Makers of e-cigarettes also would be banned from making health-related claims without scientific evidence.

Health warning labels? What will they be warning of? Other than nicotine addiction what do they have a shred of evidence of? Yes, there is little to no scientific evidence of health benefits of using e-cigs but there is just as little with regards to adverse effects. Are there going to be warning labels on the hazards of smoking on e-cigs? That’s a kinda asinine given they fact you aren’t smoking when you use them.

Rocks on April 24, 2014 at 10:26 AM

What about those candy cigarettes?

Do they still even make them?

Enjoyed them as a kid, yet somehow, never smoked a day in my life.

Slowrunner on April 24, 2014 at 10:38 AM

Oh wait a minute, I get it: this is about the government’s haunting fear that somewhere, someone might be doing something that they don’t yet control.

Physics Geek on April 24, 2014 at 9:03 AM

+1 for H. L. Mencken paraphrase.

smyt on April 24, 2014 at 10:39 AM

Ha! Most people who buy the flavored cigarillos or even the “black and milds” are using them (somehow) to smoke marijuana. And all nicotine related products, including e-cigs, already require photo ID.

If the idiots involved in the anti-tobacco movement really want kids to stop smoking, maybe they should promote virtues such as self-control and parental responsibility, rather being control-freaks.

RockinRickOwen on April 24, 2014 at 10:49 AM

But, but ,but this is a FREE country, right?

earlgrey on April 24, 2014 at 10:51 AM

I’m a civil libertarian. However, this is Exhibit A for why civil libertarians should not support Democrats even though they claim to share some views. You know for a fact that the Democrats will tax the hell out of pot, and prostitutes will be required to have been union members for at least 30 years before starting their business.

PBH on April 24, 2014 at 11:07 AM

A minor point, Ed, but I think “psychoactive” is more accurate than “hallucinogenic” as applied to marijuana. On the other hand, nicotine, alcohol, caffeine are all also psychoactive, one way or another.

novaculus on April 24, 2014 at 11:23 AM

It’s that kind of hyperbole that makes most Americans skeptical of the motives behind the push to expand regulation, even where an arguably rational basis exists.

*sigh*

spinach.chin on April 24, 2014 at 11:40 AM

The e-cig regulation is fine, so long as it is for products with nicotine. Those should be labeled, and the liquid containing nicotine should be in child-proof containers. Nicotine is toxic at high doses. The e-cig lobby already calls for restricting the sale of e-cigs to adults, proper labelling of ingredients, use of child-proofing, and restricting health claims to what is scientifically reportable. My go-to source for e-cig supplies already does all of these things.

So, yeah. Real wild, wild west behavior.

In related news, government people are morons.

TABoLK on April 24, 2014 at 11:42 AM

First attempt at a comment (been waiting years to catch an open window) so this may not be germane by the time it shows up.

They regulated and taxed the heck out of beer, so now I brew my own. Cigars and pipe tobacco are already taxed to insanity. If they start regulating them, I guess I’ll have to grow and roll my own as well.

I will not willingly participate in their stupidity.

R.U.Sirius on April 24, 2014 at 12:03 PM

Here’s a better idea…. Let’s make some pretty deep cuts to federal agencies across the board and see if they can’t get their priorities straight.

Seems to me that when budgets are more stringent, that which is truly important will get addressed and that which is not, falls by the wayside. There’s not a whole lot of resources for pointless government interference when the money’s not there. What we’ve got going on here, as we see in ridiculous examples like the Bundy Ranch… is too many government employees without enough to do to justify their payroll. There’s no evidence that e-cigs are hurting anyone, no long lists of damaged victims and rampant injuries. So what they’re doing is basically “make-work” in the hopes that there will be a taxable cash-cow somewhere in the offing.

CUT THEIR BUDGETS. They’ll go back to doing what’s necessary and leaving the rest alone for lack of funding.

Murf76 on April 24, 2014 at 12:07 PM

If the FDA wants to regulate e-liquids that contain nicotine as “tobacco products”, they can make their case. The actual devices themselves along with zero-nicotine liquids are obviously not “tobacco” products and shouldn’t be regulated as such.

Wendya on April 24, 2014 at 12:08 PM

Murf 76: “Cut their budgets…”

Heck, why not eliminate them?? Cut their budgets, COMPLETELY!

R.U.Sirius on April 24, 2014 at 12:10 PM

R.U.Sirius on April 24, 2014 at 12:10 PM

While I do think there’s room for eliminating entire agencies, the Dept. of Ed. for one example, what you’re suggesting isn’t feasible. With 17 trillion in debt though, big budget cuts are. And if they’re done, not only will they reduce spending, but they’ll reduce the government footprint in the daily lives of ordinary Americans.

Murf76 on April 24, 2014 at 12:25 PM

Pot OK! E Cigs bad?

Jpalm32 on April 24, 2014 at 12:33 PM

Big crisis if everyone dumps tobacco products for E-cigs. That’s a whole bunch of tax revenue that evaporates with each puff of water vapor. All those health issues would disappear as well…no one would need major health insurance coverage as a result and Obamacare becomes a fart in the wind. This is a crisis, people!

It is rather humorous that you need photo ID to purchase alcohol and tobacco products but it somehow violates your civil rights to produce and ID to vote.

Wyznowski on April 24, 2014 at 12:47 PM

Cigarette carcinogens are created when the tobacco is ignited. E-cigs do not reach combustion, so the chemicals that go in are the same that come out. All four or five ingredients. Instead of four hundred or so in tobacco smoke. Logic says e-cigs are better. My experience agrees – my breathing is so much better. And I sleep better.

By the way Ed? Marijuana is not “hallucinogenic”.

One Percenter on April 24, 2014 at 1:01 PM

Hey, Ed, you’re missing an important piece. According to the NY Times article, the FDA will require government issued photo ID to purchase the tobacco, cigars, and e-cig supplies.

Obviously, requiring ID is burdensome and racist!

William Teach on April 24, 2014 at 8:39 AM

I’d have to wonder if they just want another few datapoints for the Obamacare database, maybe also to be used to determine if one is worthy of a carry permit. We can’t have dangerous nicotine addicts carrying weapons, can we?

slickwillie2001 on April 24, 2014 at 1:05 PM

More high school students in the United States now smoke marijuana than smoke cigarettes, according to the federal government.
http://www.tokeofthetown.com/2012/06/more_high_school_students_smoke_marijuana_than_cig.php
Who is behind this tells you everything you need to know.
U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jack Reed (D-RI) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
http://www.boxer.senate.gov/en/press/releases/032514b.cfm

Trucorgi on April 24, 2014 at 1:11 PM

Hmmm… How did the Federal Government get the authority to regulate the behavior of We the People? They were not delegated that authority in the Constitution so that means they had to unconstitutionally steal that authority from the State’s and We the People.

James Madison, explaining the constitution, in Federalist Paper 45, said, The powers delegated to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, such as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people.

Thomas Jefferson emphasized that the states are not subordinate€to the national government, but rather the two are coordinate departments of one simple and integral whole. The one is the domestic, the other the foreign branch of the same government.

Article 5 of the Constitution tells us how to put a stop to this tyranny…

wartface on April 24, 2014 at 2:50 PM

Congress passed a law… or any Judge makes an unconstitutional decision regarding any case and it becomes law.

The Federal Government has become a criminal cartel… They have performed a silent coup d’état against our Constitutional Republic, our Constitution, our liberty and our freedom. 

They stole that power from the State’s and We the People.

The Founding Father’s DELEGATED few and limited power’s to the newly created Federal Government and none of it had to do with ANY power inside the United States of America.

How did they pull this off…? It’s a rigged process, here is how it works.

1)The House of Representative’s proposes a bill and approves it and sends it to the Senate.

2) The Senate passes it and sends it to the President. 

3) The President signs it and that codifies it as law. 

4) Then someone sues the the Federal Government because they think their Constitutional rights have been violated. In the lower court it doesn’t matter if they win or lose because any issue that the Federal Government wants to win… Will go to the SCOTUS.

 5) Then the SCOTUS, a third and equal branch of the Federal Governement Cartel… goes along with the other 2 branches and allows the new law to Stand, even if they have to rewrite it themselves to make it look kind of legal. Exactly the way they did with the ACA.

  That’s the perfect crime. No one has Standing to sue them based on laws they created.

No political truth is certainly of greater intrinsic value, or is stamped with the authority of more enlightened patrons of liberty than that on which the objection is founded. The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.
James Madison, Federalist No. 48, February 1, 1788

They’ve doing this for a few 100 years now…

wartface on April 24, 2014 at 3:05 PM

This is going to suck for us cigar smokers.

Why can’t the government realize there is a huge difference between cigarette smokers vs pipe/cigar smokers.

Cigars are less frequent, completely natural (outside of the flavored cigars Ed talked about and are completely gross), and not targeted at teens. The same can be said of the pipe people. It is a relaxing, time consuming activity, not something you do on the run.

Yet the FDA I am sure will put such regulations on it to essentially kill some of the smaller companies making cigars. And that will be a shame.

DEHIII on April 24, 2014 at 3:06 PM

This is going to suck for us cigar smokers.

Why can’t the government realize there is a huge difference between cigarette smokers vs pipe/cigar smokers.

Cigars are less frequent, completely natural (outside of the flavored cigars Ed talked about and are completely gross), and not targeted at teens. The same can be said of the pipe people. It is a relaxing, time consuming activity, not something you do on the run.

Yet the FDA I am sure will put such regulations on it to essentially kill some of the smaller companies making cigars. And that will be a shame.

DEHIII on April 24, 2014 at 3:06 PM

i had to give up cigar smoking. They taxed it right out of my payscale. Fking thieves.

Murphy9 on April 24, 2014 at 3:45 PM

By the way Ed? Marijuana is not “hallucinogenic”.

One Percenter on April 24, 2014 at 1:01 PM

Yet it’s an hallucinogen. Weird. Must have something to do with altering perceptions.

JohnBrown on April 24, 2014 at 4:51 PM

And here’s the thing about pipe tobacco. A lot of rolling tobacco is called “pipe tobacco” because pipe tobacco is taxed less. Guess they caught on.

JohnBrown on April 24, 2014 at 4:53 PM

Being in the business of making flavored eLiquids, I’ve been on the edge of my seat.

As TABoLK’s vendor does, so do I (TABoLK on April 24, 2014 at 11:42 AM). My biggest “fear” is what the Approval costs are going to be. Unlike most vendors, I’m a boutique mixer. If I have to get each particular mix approved…

sigh…

deejMan on April 24, 2014 at 5:03 PM

I haven’t had a cigarette in 18 months, and I smoked 2 packs a day. So the tax dollars lost are huge if you add up all the “vapers” non-smokers they now have not paying taxes.

They can’t have us not paying the sin tax they require to survive!!

TXDOORGUNNER on April 24, 2014 at 10:54 PM

The real loss of rights started with the original cigarette ban. Once the progs found out how easy it was to single out smokers for ridicule and make them pariah (for the children), the general grabbing of rights started in earnest. I’m not a smoker and I saw that one coming.
Death by a thousand cuts, Loss of liberty by a thousand regulations.

AppraisHer on April 25, 2014 at 2:13 AM