Repost from CNN.com.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell and the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Robert Califf, made the announcement about their final rule Thursday (PDF).
The rule broadens the definition of tobacco products to include e-cigarettes, hookahs, pipe tobacco, premium cigars, little cigars and other products.
“This action is a milestone in consumer protection — going forward, the FDA
will be able to review new tobacco products not yet on the market, help prevent misleading claims by tobacco product manufacturers, evaluate the ingredients of tobacco products and how they are made, and communicate the potential risks of tobacco products,” the agency said in announcing the extension of its authority.
The new rule will not go into effect immediately, since companies will need time to comply.
The FDA held three public workshops to gather information about the devices and the potential impact on public health. The public comment period closed July 2, at which point the agency began a review of approximately 130,000 comments that informed the final rule.
The purpose of those workshops was to figure out what the risks of e-cigarettes are when used properly and how many chemicals and nicotine are inhaled when someone uses them. The FDA also wanted to know about any potential health benefit.
Some studies have showed that using e-cigarettes would be a good way to help a person quit smoking. In 2014, the Royal College of Physicians published a statement that suggested they were an effective and affordable alternative to conventional cigarettes and could “make harm reduction a reality for smokers.”
The American Lung Association heralded the news as a “long-awaited step to protect public health.”
“At last the Food and Drug Administration will have basic authority to make science-based decisions that will protect our nation’s youth and the public health from all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cigars and hookah,” Harold Wimmer, president and CEO of the association, said in a statement.
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