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Is the FDA playing a long game with electronic cigarettes?
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Mark Benson Offline
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Is the FDA playing a long game with electronic cigarettes?
On the surface last week's news from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), with regards to the future regulation of electronic cigarettes, seemed to be fairly positive on the whole. There will be little restriction on advertising, some of the more exotic flavours remain untouched although perhaps the most important element of the announcement is the fact that electronic cigarettes will now come under FDA approval. In simple terms this means that they will be treated the same as medical devices and all recent and future products will need to be registered with the administration.

At this stage of development of the electronic cigarette industry you could argue that the FDA has played a blinder with relative soft touch regulations in the short-term with the potential to tighten this in the medium to longer term.

Ban sales to minors

As many people had expected, and indeed many people had demanded, the FDA has announced a ban on the sale of ecigs to people under 18 years of age. This is something which politicians, the industry and the wider population have been suggesting for some time now. It also removes one of the sticks which politicians continually used to attack the electronic cigarette industry, although no doubt they will find other weapons in the future!

Despite the fact that electronic cigarette abuse is just a fraction of alcohol and tobacco cigarette abuse amongst youngsters of today, it was casting a rather long shadow across the industry.

No new regulations on exotic flavours

Even though the FDA made a move to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors, there were no such restrictions afforded to the more exotic flavours which many believe are targeted at youngsters. While the industry may well be breathing a sigh of relief in the short to medium term there is a consultation period during which further discussions will be held and arguments made, leaving scope for additional regulations in due course.

This is perhaps one area where the FDA is looking to leave its options open in the longer term while taking a step back in the short to medium term.

Softly, softly approach?

You know that regulators have got the situation just about right in the short-term when those for and against regulations are complaining. There is literally something for everybody in the latest FDA announcement offering scope for further sales growth in the long-term while reducing exposure to those under 18 years of age. However, as we touched on above, perhaps the greatest threat is the fact that electronic cigarettes will now effectively be treated as medical devices with all products requiring the approval of the FDA.

It will be interesting to see whether the eventual regulatory situation bears much resemblance to the initial announcement by the FDA. The consultation period will no doubt be thwarted with danger for the industry with an array of critics already stepping forward to vent their anger at the so-called soft touch approach. However, while the industry as a whole had expected further short-term regulatory hurdles there are at least a couple of years for the sector to get its house in order. Is this when the large tobacco companies step forward to hijack the industry and lead the sector forward?

For more information on OK Electronic Cigarettes and the various products available please visit the OKCigs website.
29-04-2014 04:51 PM
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