The debate still rages over whether e-cigarettes are a healthier way to smoke, but in the eyes of the US Food and Drug Administration, vape pens can be classified alongside regular old tobacco products. After rules introduced in May that banned their sale to under-18s, the FDA has this week made it easier for consumers to report problems with e-cigs and vape products — along with defective hookah, cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco — using its updated online tool.
"There is no known safe tobacco product."
"There is no known safe tobacco product," said Ii-Lun Chen, a director at the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products, "but [the] FDA can play a role in helping prevent certain unexpected health consequences." To that end, users can report burns, allergic reactions, poisoning, and problems with the quality of the product, alongside other issues, using the FDA's online tool. The governmental body will use the information to build "a comprehensive tobacco regulation program" that it says will "ensure all tobacco products have an appropriate level of regulatory oversight."
Vape pens were aligned with traditional tobacco products earlier this year after the FDA first moved to control the technology in 2014. Some lawmakers protested the proposed regulations — by vaping, of course — but rules were introduced earlier this year that banned their use on airplanes and restricted their sale to minors. Smokers can take a look at the FDA's updated tool to see if they can report a problem with their tobacco product of choice, from hand-rolled cigarettes to the most advanced diesel vapes, but with millions of young people trying e-cigs for the first time, it may not be immediately obvious that their device is defective. "Does it have a strange taste or smell?," the FDA asks — isn't that the whole point of vaping?