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US FDA plans to regulate e-cigarettes

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that it plans to impose federal regulations on electronic cigarettes, which turn nicotine-laced water into vapour.

WASHINGTON: The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that it plans to impose federal regulations on electronic cigarettes, which turn nicotine-laced water into vapour.

A 75-day comment period is underway, allowing anyone to have their say on the proposal, but eventually, e-cigarettes will be banned from sale to anyone under 18 and makers will have to get FDA approval.

The FDA is proposing treating cigars like just like other tobacco products, meaning the many new brands that come out every year would have to undergo a review before being allowed on sale.

The proposal is part of FDA's plan to set an example to many other health authorities worldwide who follow FDA guidelines.

Mitch Zeller, director of Center for Tobacco Products at US FDA, said: "This phenomenon of e-cigarettes and the increasing use of unconventional tobacco products is something that regulators around the world need to pay intention to.

"And the only way to protect consumers is through good old fashioned consumer protection through product regulation and we encourage our sister regulators to do what we are doing."

It's not only cigars and pipes coming in for scrutiny.

The new rules are mainly aimed at e-cigarettes and 'vape' places.

At the DC Vape Joint, fans of e-cigarettes can gather, buy the flavoured juices that help fuel the devices and smoke them together.

Those who go there are part of a growing trend.

E-cigarettes and other 'vaping' devices generate around $2 billion a year.

Some analysts think they could even overtake the conventional cigarette industry within a decade.

Ryan Bixby, manager of DC Vape Joint, said e-cigarettes help people give up smoking tobacco.

He welcomed the new regulations, saying they will make vaping more acceptable.

"It's going to help pare the industry down into companies that are really making quality products and are putting the time and safety into the work environment and into the places where the products are made, which is really important," he said.

But anti-smoking charity Legacy said the health effects of e-cigarettes are still up for debate and meanwhile young people might be at risk.

Robin Koval, CEO and president of Legacy, said: "What we don't know is whether they actually help anyone stop. And certainly when it comes to youth, we don't know whether young people will begin using an e-cigarette, become addicted to nicotine and then graduate to the 'good stuff', so to speak."

US lawmakers seem to agree.

The Senate Majority Whip is drafting regulations to ban e-cigarettes in one wing of the building - which only goes to prove they're now becoming well and truly part of the scene in the US capital. 

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