The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is banning the sale of e-cigarettes and some other tobacco products to people under age 18 for the first time, a move designed to prevent a new generation from being addicted to nicotine.
In addition to e-cigarettes, the FDA announced a ban on the sale of pipe tobacco, hookah tobacco and cigars to minors. The FDA already regulates cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and roll-your-own tobacco products.
E-cigarettes have grown into a $3 billion industry, as their use rises among middle- and high school students. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA say 3 million middle- and high schoolers reported using e-cigarettes in 2015, an increase from around 2.5 million the year before.
The new rules - which take effect in 90 days - require makers of the tobacco products to submit them for regulatory review, provide a list of ingredients and place health warnings on packages and in advertisements.
If U.S. House Republicans have their way, however, the new regulations will have limitations.
A bill approved by the House Appropriations Committee on April 19 would prevent the FDA from requiring retroactive safety reviews of e-cigarette products introduced after 2007 and exempt some premium and large cigars as well.
The measure, sponsored by Republican Congressman Robert Aderhold, was included in an agriculture spending bill. The legislation is akin to "driving a bus through public health protections," said Erika Sward of the American Lung Association.
Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, said the FDA pre-market review requirement would hurt manufacturers of the tobacco products. "There are thousands of small business and tens of thousands of jobs on the line," Conley said.
The FDA began focusing on e-cigarettes in 2009 as they began appearing on store shelves in the United States. That same year, President Barack Obama signed into law a measure that gave the FDA authority over the previously unregulated products. Congress also gave the agency the authority to assert jurisdiction over them.