HomeWashington Letter2018 ▶ FDA Promises Future Policy Action on E-cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products
FDA Promises Future Policy Action on E-cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products

In response to the CDC’s 2018 Youth Tobacco Survey showing an alarming growth in youth e-cigarette use, the FDA promised to take several actions: 

  • Ban menthol flavorings from cigarettes and cigars.
  • Ban flavors in cigars.
  • Limit the sale of flavored e-cigarette products to those younger than18- years (and preventing entry to vape shops, cigar stores).
  • Allow only the sale of mint or menthol e-cigarette sales in other retail locations.
  • Require “heightened” age verification requirements for internet e-cigarette sales.
  • Consider revising the Premarket Tobacco Product Applications deadline for flavored e-cigarette products.

When asked when the FDA would move forward with the promised policy actions, the Agency implied the restrictions on e-cigarettes point of sales would be accomplished in a matter of months.  The other actions that require official rule making (banning menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars) would be issued in the form of a notice of proposed rule-making sometime in calendar year 2019. 

While the FDA’s announced policy action is welcome news – particularly the ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars – it will likely take years for these policies to be implemented.  FDA has only promised to take action; the agency has not yet issued the proposed rules to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars.  Once the proposed rules are out, there will be lengthy public comment period before a final rule is issued.  After a final rule is issued, it is safe to assume the tobacco industry will challenge the final rules in court – potentially delaying implementation of the tobacco control policy even further.

In his press statement responding to the increase in youth e-cigarette use and accompanying policy actions, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, stated, “We’ve been aware of these data for several months and are pursuing a robust set of new policies to address this epidemic-level of e-cigarette use by kids.” 

“If the FDA has been aware of this information for months, why aren’t they taking concrete actions today?” said Harold Farber, MD, MSPH, chair of the Tobacco Action Committee of the ATS.  “The promised future regulatory action, while welcomed, seems to lack the urgency this public crisis requires.”

Last Reviewed: November 16, 2018