The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has gained control over all tobacco products and released new finalized rules in 2016 on the oversight of them. According to Mitch Zeller, JD, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, before the FDA’s final rule, certain tobacco products could be sold without any review of ingredients, the process of how they were made, and the potential dangers associated with them.

“Under this new rule,” Zeller said, “We’re taking steps to protect Americans from the dangers of tobacco products, by ensuring these tobacco products have health warnings, and by restricting sales to minors.”

Using the goal of public health as a priority, the FDA cited the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which gave the FDA the authority to regulate cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco. However, some products, including cigars, hookah tobacco, and e-cigarettes, remained unregulated. This left a void that the tobacco industry quickly filled. Now, the agency has drawn new lines, outlining what constitutes appropriate usage of all tobacco products. Their new ruling includes the following provisions.

  • It will become illegal nationwide to sell cigars, hookah tobacco, and e-cigarettes to anyone under age 18 and retailers will need to check photo ID of anyone under age 27.
  • Retailers will not be allowed to give away free samples of newly deemed tobacco products.
  • Retailers will not be allowed to sell cigars, hookah tobacco, and e-cigarettes in a vending machine where anyone under age 18 has access at any time.

In addition, the new authority grants the FDA the right to review new products and designate their categories for consumption. This is an exciting time at the FDA and public health. ONS has long championed the harmful effects of tobacco, the importance of smoking cessation, as well as the potential adverse health consequences of nicotine delivery systems

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