The Food and Drug Administration is to propose its first regulations on e-cigarettes today in a move with sweeping implications for the nascent market. The administration plans to ban the sale of the nicotine-vapor dispensers to people under 18 and mandate photo ID for purchases, but there won't be any restrictions on marketing or flavors at first. Manufacturers would, however, be required to secure FDA approval of their products, and print warnings on packaging that e-cigarettes contain addictive nicotine. Free samples would also be banned.

"...An historic day for the FDA and for public health."

An FDA spokesperson tells The New York Times that the proposals do not reflect a decision on the ultimate safety of e-cigarettes; these regulations are a first step to bring the market under the administration's purview, and further rulings on matters such as flavoring are likely to follow. FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg said it was "an historic day for the FDA and for public health," in comments reported by The Wall Street Journal, and that the regulations would help children avoid "a lifetime of nicotine addiction."

E-cigarettes are generally considered less harmful than their tobacco equivalents, and many people use them to wean themselves off a smoking habit. Last year the European Parliament rejected a plan to classify e-cigarettes as medicinal products and restrict their sales.