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NIDA. (2016, August 2). How Do the New FDA Rules Affect You?. Retrieved from

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The NIDA Blog Team
August 2 2016
Illustration of all nicotine delivery systems

E-cig Ingredients Will No Longer Be a Mystery

You probably thought that when a person buys a tobacco product like an e-cigarette or a flavored cigar, they can expect to see the ingredients accurately listed on the package.

Until now, though, e-cigs, cigars, hookah tobacco, pipe tobacco, and flavored tobacco products like small cigars haven’t been regulated by the U.S. Government’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA). And without regulation, when a person buys a product, they can’t be sure what’s really in it—or if the labeling is even accurate. (Remember that the goal of manufacturers is to make money, not necessarily to improve your health.)

Ruling in your favor

Starting on August 8th, the FDA is changing the rules to help people know exactly what they’re getting when they buy e-cigs and tobacco products. Plus, the Government will be able to put age limits on who can buy them.

Manufacturers of all newly-regulated tobacco products, and e-cigarette devices and liquids, will need to submit them to the FDA for review. This will allow the FDA to look at important factors like ingredients, product design, and health risks, plus whether the products are designed to lure young people and non-users. And the companies making these products will need to put health warnings about the dangers of smoking and vaping on the products and advertising.

So why are the new rules needed for e-cigarettes and hookah?

E-cigs: Myths and Facts

When NIDA researchers did a survey recently asking some teens what they thought was in the e-cigs they used, here’s what they said:  

Almost 14 percent of teens say they don’t know what’s in the e-cigs they use. This makes public health experts worry that teens aren’t being careful enough with their choices. Would you eat a sandwich if you didn’t know what was in it? Probably not. So why would you smoke something when you don’t know what chemicals are in it? 

E-cigarettes typically use a battery-powered device to heat up a liquid mixture of nicotine and other flavorings (which are sold separately) so they can be inhaled. This means manufacturers can put pretty much anything in e-cigarettes, and there’s also no way for people buying e-cigarette liquid to know if it’s safe.

E-cig manufacturers also want you to think their products are risk-free, and some have advertised them as a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes. In reality, e-cigs are so new that researchers still don’t know how risky they are, and they may not know for a while. One thing science has learned, however, is that teens who vape are more likely to start smoking within six months. That’s good news for the tobacco companies seeking profits, bad news for teens taking the risk.

The more we learn about e-cigarettes, the better. Even if some people keep using them, the FDA rule means users will know exactly what they’re inhaling into their bodies. And for those who aren’t so sure they want to start using e-cigs, the rule will give them more facts to consider before they make that decision. 

Hookah: Like Cigs on Steroids

There’s plenty of confusion surrounding hookah, which some teens think is safer to use than regular cigarettes. They’re wrong about that. Did you know that a typical hookah session delivers approximately 125 times the smoke, 25 times the tar, 2.5 times the nicotine, and 10 times the carbon monoxide as smoking a cigarette?

A lot of people also don’t realize that hookahs and cigars contain the same tobacco as cigarettes, as well as tar and chemicals—including carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, cyanide, and ammonia! And the nicotine in hookahs is addictive, just like nicotine in regular cigarettes.

The FDA’s new rule will require companies to put accurate health warnings on hookahs and other smoking and vaping products, so their possible negative health effects will be clear.

Be informed

Under the new rule, starting August 8th, teens under age 18 won’t be able to buy e-cigarettes, cigars, hookah tobacco, pipe tobacco, and flavored tobacco products. Although it was already illegal in many states to sell e-cigarettes to teens, now it will be illegal in all of the United States.

Whether you’re under 18 or not, because of the FDA’s changes to the regulations for these products, you’ll be better armed to make smart decisions about your health.