FDA bans sales of e-cigarettes to anyone under 18


After several years of delay, the Food and Drug Administration moved today to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.

Read more: Scented candles can be as harmful as cigarettes, doctor says

Limiting sales of e-cigarettes to the underage vaping crowd

Under the new rules, retailers must verify age by photo ID and can’t sell e-cigarettes in vending machines or give out free samples.

The new rules will go into effect on Aug. 8, however, there are a few other moving pieces to these regulations that will take substantially longer to ramp up.

For example, manufacturers of e-cigarettes now must get marketing authorization from the FDA for any new products. That approval process is likely to be lengthy, so the FDA will allow manufacturers to keep selling their wares for up to two years as they submit applications. There’s also an additional one-year window during which manufacturers can sell a new product after they’ve applied while the FDA wraps up its review.   

It’s amazing to think that before today’s announcement, there was no restriction on selling e-cigarettes to anyone under 18. Yet the dangers that the liquid nicotine in many e-cigarettes can pose to children is well documented.

Refill canisters containing liquid nicotine can be particularly appealing to children under 6 years old because of the flavoring chemicals that are used. Common flavorings include cotton candy, Fruit Squirts and cupcakes — all geared to appeal to young taste buds.

That’s led to more than 3,000 documented instances of poisoning when kids get their hands on the canister’s contents, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. In one case, a 1-year-old boy died after ingesting liquid nicotine.

To make matters worse, a group of Harvard scientists have also found the flavoring chemicals used in many liquid nicotines contain the same compound — diacetyl — that’s responsible for the infamous ‘popcorn lung’ syndrome.

Read more: E-cigarette chemical linked to ‘popcorn lung’


Can e-cigarettes actually help you quit smoking?

While opponents note the dangers of e-cigarettes to kids and teens, there is a school of thought out there that posits e-cigs can actually help you quit smoking. Back in 2013, a study from New Zealand published in Lancet, a leading medical journal, found that e-cigarettes were 50% more effective than the patch when you’re looking to quit smoking.

That corroborates evidence from the PLOS (Public Library of Science) that found people given e-cigarettes over a two-year period were able to kick the traditional cigarette habit at a pretty decent rate. In the PLOS study, three quarters of people who quit with e-cigarettes not only weren’t smoking, they weren’t using the e-cigarettes at all! And if they did have an e-cigarette, they didn’t relapse to traditional cigarettes.

Clark himself managed to quit smoking two packs a day back in the 1970s by using his own unique aversion strategy. Whenever he wanted a cigarette, he would smoke a giant cigar. He reports that within a few days, he no longer had any cravings at all!

The truth is smoking is addictive and hard to give up. Both the Lancet study and the PLOS study shows e-cigarettes may offer one possible way to get the job done. Meanwhile, some people who’ve quit smoking after being heavily addicted report having a lot of success using a book called Allen Carr’s Easy Way To Stop Smoking. Check it out and see if it helps you.

Read more: E-cigs might be way less harmful than actual cigarettes

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