Skip to main content

The FDA is banning e-cigarette sales to people under 18

The FDA is banning e-cigarette sales to people under 18

Share this story

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The US Food and Drug Administration is now banning the sale of e-cigarettes to people under the age of 18. The ruling, which was finalized today, aligns with how tobacco products are already regulated, prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to minors. Now, the term "tobacco product" has been officially expanded to include e-cigarettes, vape pens, and other electronic devices that have grown in popularity over the last few years.

The first time the FDA has regulated the e-cig industry

The new ruling will go into affect in 90 days, and makes e-cigs subject to the same rules outlined in the Tobacco Control Act of 2009. That means retailers will need to verify the photo ID of their customers before they buy e-cigarettes. In addition, manufacturers whose products hit the market after February 15th, 2007 (so, essentially all vapes) will need to submit applications to the agency for approval and to determine whether or not their products show any additional health risks. Companies will be able to sell their wares for two years while they submit applications, and then for another year while the applications are reviewed.

Regulations for the e-cigarette industry have been in the works for years. The FDA sent its final proposed ruling to the White House for review last fall, and its initial proposal was drafted in 2014. Today's news marks the first time the FDA has successfully regulated products in the e-cigarette category.

E-cigarettes and vaporizers have proliferated in recent years, and their popularity among young people is a growing concern. According to the CDC, 3 million teens used e-cigarettes last year. Meanwhile, teens who see ads for the products are more likely to start vaping than those who don't. The rising trend even spurred Hawaii to sign a law that raised the smoking age to 21. As CDC director Tom Frieden said in a statement last year, "E-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product among youth, and use continues to climb."

Vaping is a growing trend among teens

However, lobby groups who've up until now fought for an exemption to the tobacco rules won't go down without a fight. "Today’s action by the FDA will do nothing to improve our nations’ public health objectives," said Tony Abboud, national legislative director for the Vapor Technology Association in a statement. "To the contrary, today’s action will yank responsibly manufactured vapor products from the hands of adult smokers and replace them with the tobacco cigarettes they had been trying to give up."