US food and drug regulator bans sale of e-cigarette, other tobacco products to minors

Source:Xinhua Published: 2016-5-6 8:13:03

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Thursday issued its long-awaited final rule that bans the sale of e-cigarettes, cigars, hookah tobacco and pipe tobacco to people under age 18.

Under the rule, retailers will be required to verify the age of purchasers by photo identification and the sale of covered tobacco products in vending machines will be prohibited unless the machine is located in an adult-only facility.

The new requirements, which will go into effect in 90 days, also ban the distribution of free samples.

"Before today, there was no federal law prohibiting retailers from selling e-cigarettes, hookah tobacco or cigars to people under age 18," the FDA said in a statement. "Today's rule changes that ... bringing them in line with other tobacco products the FDA has regulated."

In addition, all tobacco products brought to the market after Feb. 15, 2007, which include all e-cigarettes, must submit new tobacco product applications and show they "meet the applicable public health standard set forth in the law," the U.S. agency said.

The FDA said it will allow manufacturers to continue selling their products for up to two years while they submit their applications and then for an additional year while it reviews the submissions.

"The FDA will issue an order granting marketing authorization where appropriate; otherwise, the product will face FDA enforcement," it added.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States and responsible for 480,000 deaths per year.

While there has been a significant decline in the use of traditional cigarettes among U.S. youth over the past decade, their use of other tobacco products continues to climb.

A recent survey supported by the FDA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed current e-cigarette use among high school students has skyrocketed from 1.5 percent in 2011 to 16 percent in 2015 and hookah use has risen significantly.

"As cigarette smoking among those under 18 has fallen, the use of other nicotine products, including e-cigarettes, has taken a drastic leap. All of this is creating a new generation of Americans who are at risk of addiction," said Sylvia Burwell, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. "Today's announcement is an important step in the fight for a tobacco-free generation."

The FDA rule was welcomed by anti-smoking groups.

"Too many children and teens are using e-cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products," said Harold Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association. "Ending the tobacco epidemic is more urgent than ever, and can only happen if the FDA acts aggressively and broadly to protect all Americans from all tobacco products."

"Today's action marks a historic step forward in helping to alleviate the threat of lifelong nicotine addiction for our youth, and should serve as a foundation for further progress when it comes to keeping children safe from dangerous tobacco products," Benard Dreyer, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said in a statement.

Posted in: Americas

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