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Should the FDA Regulate E-Cigarettes? FindLaw Survey Says...

The FDA published its proposed rules for regulating e-cigarettes Friday, but is it something Americans want?

According to a recent FindLaw.com survey, more Americans support regulating e-cigarettes like tobacco than oppose it.

However, more than half of Americans who have actually tried e-cigs disagree.

27% of Americans Oppose E-Cig Regulation

Out of all survey respondents, 43 percent welcomed regulating e-cigarettes like their non-electronic counterparts, with only 27 percent disagreeing with such a shift in regulation. Maybe this isn't that surprising, considering that only 15 percent of Americans admit to trying e-cigarettes.

But the proposed rules won't only affect e-cigarettes. The FDA wants to include cigars, hookah tobacco, and other "smokeless" tobacco-based products under the same new regulations. Part of the rationale behind the proposed changes is an attempt to regulate products that are being marketed to adolescents.

FindLaw.com's survey found that at least one-third of people between ages 25 and 34 have tried an e-cigarette, but most only did so once. This may explain why there aren't more die-hard e-cigarette advocates railing against these proposed FDA changes. Of those who have smoked an e-cigarette at least once, 55 percent oppose the idea of regulating e-cigs like tobacco products.

The FDA had attempted to ban e-cigarettes outright before, but federal courts blocked that move in 2010. E-cigarettes and their ilk have been enjoyed about four years of virtually no regulation, but that is likely to change with these new rules.

FDA to Regulate All Tobacco Products the Same

The proposed rules for regulating e-cigarettes are available on Regulations.gov for public comment. The 75-day comment period is part of the FDA's informal rulemaking process, and it is necessary for the proposed rules to become finalized and legally binding.

While the FDA's proposed rules would make many changes, here are the basic points:

  • The rules would expand FDA regulation over "tobacco products" to include e-cigarettes, hookah tobacco, "smokeless" tobacco, and cigars;
  • The rules would prohibit anyone under the age of 18 from purchasing any of these covered tobacco products;
  • The rules would possibly exempt hand-rolled premium cigars;
  • They would require health warnings on all tobacco product ads and packaging; and
  • They would include an "addictiveness" warning on all products containing nicotine.

Critics of the new rules point out that e-cigarette makers will still be able to product and market flavors like mint mocha and pina colada, which were banned from regular cigarettes in 2009.

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