New FDA Rules for E-Cigs May Help Big Tobacco

Electronic cigarettes are practically nothing like their flammable namesakes, aside from their general size, shape and the fact they deliver a legal drug — nicotine — via the mouth to the lungs.

GATHERING EVIDENCE: The FDA is looking for input and public comment on proposed new that would regulate e-cigarettes like tobacco cigarettes, even though the electronic kind of smoking uses no flame, smoke or – most importantly – tobacco.

But those similarities are close enough for the Food and Drug Administration, which unveiled new proposed rules on Thursday for e-cigarettes — the first time the federal government has written regulations for the increasingly popular devices.

The new rules prohibit the sales of e-cigarettes to minors and will require manufacturers to submit to FDA oversight regarding the manufacture and advertising of the products.

A 75-day public comment period will happen before the new rules are adopted.

The new rules could squeeze some manufacturers out of the nascent but growing e-cigarette marketplace in favor of so-called “Big Tobacco” firms, capable of throwing their muscle around to influence the rule-making process.

But the FDA said the new rules were about consumer protection.