Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has had considerable authority for the marketing and distribution of tobacco products for some time, the agency has been much more aggressive in asserting its jurisdiction over the issue in recent years. In a blog by Mitch Zeller, Director of the Center for Tobacco Products, explains how a new federal rule has prohibited the sale of e-cigarettes, hookah tobacco, and cigars to minors.

Through the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, most tobacco products were regulated by the FDA, but there were some exemptions provided at the time. This new definition now provides authority for the FDA to have domain over considerably more tobacco products. Some new aspects to this include:

  • 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.
  • Miller argues that while traditional tobacco product consumption has declined, new products like e-cigarettes are marketed directly to those under 18 and have become a niche industry catering to America’s youth.

The new law also strengthens the FDA’s authority over marketing, distribution, and sales. “This historic final deeming rule is a major public health step forward. We believe by restricting youth access to additional tobacco products such as cigars, hookah, and e-cigarettes and by scientifically reviewing these products, we will reduce the public health toll of tobacco use, which remains the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the country and the world—and keep our kids tobacco-free,” Miller said.