E-CigIt’s no public health secret that tobacco use continues to be a dominant cause of preventable disease and death in the US.  While the trend has been encouraging (Arizona’s smoking rate is down to 17%), there’s still much work to be done- and continued efforts to provide creative and effective ways to help adult smokers kick the habit are a key public health intervention strategy.

The flurry of electronic cigarettes that have come on the market recently have thrown us a tobacco cessation curve ball.  Over the last couple of years the public health community has been asking itself “… do the risks of electronic cigarettes outweigh their potential benefit as a smoking cessation tool?”.   The answer to that question depends on whether and how electronic cigarettes are regulated by the FDA.  Today, we got some information to help answer this key question.

Today the FDA released proposed new regulations that (when finalized) would: 1) ban selling of e-cigarettes to minors (it’s already illegal in AZ); 2) prohibit the distribution of free samples to anyone; 3) ban selling e-cigarettes in vending machines unless they’re in places where kids can’t come; 4) require e-cigarettes to have labels stating that they contain addictive nicotine; 5) require e-cigarette manufacturers to disclose the ingredients in their products; 6) require current e-cigarettes to provide  justification for remaining on the market…  and require new e-cigarettes to get FDA approval before being sold; and 7) only let e-cigarette claim that their product reduces risk if the FDA confirms that scientific evidence supports the claim and that marketing the product will benefit public health.

The  proposed new regulations wouldn’t restrict or ban the sale of fruit and chocolate flavored e-cigarettes that some believe are designed to attract and hook young people.  They also wouldn’t restrict TV advertising or online sales.

The FDA will begin accepting public comment on the proposed new regulations tomorrow.