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E-cigarettes are gaining popularity at exponential rates, and the US Food and Drug Administration is making plans to start regulating them. If you want reasonable regulations of vape shop wares, now is the time to speak up.

E-cigarettes look like cigarettes. When they are held, they feel like cigarettes. They generate "smoke" like cigarettes, and they can provide a pop of nicotine like cigarettes.

E-cigarettes, of course, aren't cigarettes. They are electronic devices that create a fine mist of "smoke" that may contain relatively harmless aromatic ingredients and/or nicotine, without the dangerous tars and carcinogenic chemicals found in tobacco-based cigarettes, and they don't leave behind ash or butts, either.

Most people who "vape," that is, who use e-cigarettes, don't smoke regular cigarettes.

People who are trying to quit smoking, however, sometimes find vaping to be an easy way to maintain the feel of holding a cigarette and the energy burst from nicotine without all the other problems of tobacco products. 

But e-cigarettes are not completely problem free:

  • Most people who use vaping products develop dry throat.
  • E-cigarettes don't cause users to become winded the way regular cigarettes do, but they do reduce lung capacity temporarily.
  • Vaping is sometimes a gateway drug to hookah pipes, that is, people who try e-cigarettes often try hookah.
  • Switching to e-cigarettes to stop smoking produces variable results, although more people manage to step down the number of times they smoke each day with e-cigarettes than without.

And e-cigarettes are becoming extremely popular with teens and even children, who can use the devices legally even in states where it is illegal for them to be sold conventional cigarettes. There is concern that the widespread popularity of e-cigs could create a new generation of smokers, especially since the major tobacco companies have gotten on the tobacco bandwagon with their own e-cig brands.

On April 24, 2014, implementing the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, signed by the President in 2009, the US Food and Drug Administration proposed a new rule extending its tobacco authority to electronic cigarettes. This new rule would not allow the FDA only to regulate e-cigarettes. It would also implement the act to give the FDA control over cigars, pipe tobacco, hookahs, and the products dissolved in water used in hookah pipes. The FDA would also exercise authority over age restrictions, packaging, distribution, and packaging of all of these products.

Currently, e-cigarettes and hookah pipes are not regulated as "tobacco products." Soon, however, they may be.

And when this happens, the following regulations are likely to be implemented quickly:

  • Age restrictions for the use of e-cigarettes, nicotine patches, and hookahs.
  • Rules prohibiting vending machine sales, except in locations that do not admit minors.
  • Bans on free samples.
  • Registration requirements, companies will have to register their products with the FDA and list ingredients on labels.
  • New products will have to approved by the FDA before they are sold.
  • Any claim of a health benefit will subject the product to FDA scrutiny, the FDA requiring substantial scientific evidence, in the form of a (very expensive) clinical trial, to substantiate the claim.
  • Claims that e-cigarettes reduce the risk of smoking-related diseases will also be regulated by the FDA, which will permit these statements only if they benefit the health of the public as a whole.
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