Plans to regulate the use of e-cigs have no come as a surprise. For a long time all the key players have been waiting for the day when this will finally come. Previously, FDA announced dates which would see new rules regarding e-cigs taking place but all these dates passed quietly with nothing being done. Finally we can see some actions when FDA has released a 214-page proposal that seeks to regulate electronic cigarettes. A general look at these new regulations seems to suggest that the proposals are not very harsh and quite fair. However, we are going to analyse some of the finer details about this proposal and look at some of the suggested rules critically.
The first part of these regulations mainly focuses on e-cig manufacturing companies. The proposal suggests that all e-cig companies should submit applications for any products that were released or updated from February 2007 onwards. In simple terms this means that every electronic cigarette will have to be approved by FDA. The timeframe offered for electronic cigarette manufacturing companies to provide all the necessary paperwork is two years. After this deadline has expired FDA will start to review all the products manufactured by these companies and it would be their mandate to determine which shall be approved or denied. This proposal may be quite intimidating for companies in the e-cig business as there will be quality measures among other measures that will be imposed. However, users are most likely to benefit from this proposal as the safety standards would be set and their interests safeguarded as the industry will be regulated.
Though consumers would most likely benefit from this first proposal by FDA, there is major concern that the reviewing of the paperwork might bring the electronic cigarette industry to a standstill. There would be tons of paperwork for FDA to deal with and sift through. This might take very long that would run to years before the exercise is completed. It is not very clear what will be happening during this time and if companies will be forced to close doors for a while, then this will only amount to a major crisis in the industry. Furthermore investors are likely to shy away from the industry as no investor would be willing to invest a large sum of money on manufacture of electronic cigarettes not knowing whether their products would be approved or not.
Another key proposal on this regulation document is in regards with labelling. FDA proposes that all companies manufacturing electronic cigarettes should clearly label their products. These labels should have information about the ingredients used to manufacture the electronic cigarette and they should also state that nicotine can be addictive. FDA sees this as a positive move towards improving transparency in the industry and it is also a bid to bolster consumer safety. This is a positive move in safeguarding the consumers and by all means should be applauded and embraced. It is clear that some companies already have labels stating the ingredients in the products but others do not. Manufacturers of those electronic cigarette brands that do not have labels will have to incur extra cost in labelling their products and this might trigger a slight price increase on the products or a reduction on the company’s profits.
E-cig manufactures would soon be able to advertise their products on any platform basing on health benefits as long as they have scientific proof to back their claim. FDA has allowed companies to make these advertisements only if they have scientific evidence to back their claims. This would be a positive and interesting twist as there have been numerous scientific researches on health benefits of e-cigs and most of them favour e-cigs. This is a provision that was not in the current law and it would help e-cig manufacturers sell their products even more.
Another critical area that has been addressed by FDA is the accessibility of electronic cigarettes to minors. For a long time critics have been waging war on electronic cigarettes arguing that they are easily accessible to people under the age of 18. FDA proposes to ban selling of electronic cigarettes to persons under 18 years. This is a positive move in safeguarding the industry as well as the future generation. This proposal also goes hand in hand with the banning of free e-cig samples normally distributed by e-cig companies during marketing. Companies would no longer be able to do so and thus they have to device ways of enticing customers to learn how the e-cig technology works.
There was plenty that was expected when FDA announced to regulate the e-cig industry. However, the proposals suggested are quite flexible and adaptable. Many expected the advertising of electronic cigarettes to be banned but this is not the case. FDA opted not to ban advertising but have it backed by a health claim. Though there are some proposals that may be a bit tough but there are also some good promising signs on a prosperous and successful industry.