E-cigarettes are also dangerous, says US agency

Updated April 26, 2014

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File photo

WASHINGTON: The US Food and Drug Administration has moved to curb the rapidly increasing use of e-cigarettes, warning consumers that like other tobacco products it too contains nicotine and is injurious to health.

This is the first ever move anywhere in the world to regulate the use of e-cigarettes.

Tobacco products “continue to be the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States,” said the administration while explaining the need for curbing the use of e-cigarettes.

The proposed regulation, once implemented, would impose new restrictions, including:

• A ban on the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.

• A prohibition on distributing free samples.

• A ban on selling e-cigarettes in vending machines unless they are in places that never admit young people.

• A requirement that e-cigarettes carry warnings that they contain nicotine, which is addictive.

• E-cigarette manufacturers would be required to disclose the ingredients in their products.

The use of e-cigarettes soared rapidly in the last five years, and last year registering a sale of two billion dollars in the United States alone.

E-cigarettes are plastic or metal tubes about the size of a traditional cigarette that heat a liquid solution containing nicotine. That creates a vapour that users inhale.

The anti-tobacco lobby in the United States is particularly incensed with the practice of candy flavoured cigarettes that attract minors.

While the users argue that the e-cigarettes have helped reduced the use of traditional cigarettes, the FDA and others argue that since it contains nicotine, it too is harmful. They also say that e-cigarettes have helped popularise tobacco use, instead of reducing it.

The FDA proposal would also require any new e-cigarettes to get FDA approval before being sold, and demand that current products provide a justification for remaining on the market.