What do the New FDA Tobacco Regulations Really Mean and how do they Impact Youth?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently found that although adolescents have been smoking fewer traditional cigarettes, their use of e-cigarettes and hookah is on the rise. That’s why the new tobacco regulations by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are a major milestone in public health.
Effective in August of this year, the FDA has extended its tobacco regulation authority to ALL tobacco products, which includes e-cigarettes, hookah, cigars, dissolvables and other previously unregulated products that are widely available to youth. The rules include banning sales to anyone under 18, requiring package warning labels and conducting formal reviews of all new and some existing products to ensure that they meet standards regarding safety and accurate disclosure of their contents and ingredients. The age regulations will help to reduce youth access to these products, while the other regulations will help to protect cigarette smokers interested in quitting from using products that have not met rigorous safety standards or that make “reduced harm” claims unsupported by solid research evidence.
E-cigarettes and some hookah products contain nicotine, an addictive substance that is particularly harmful for teens and young adults. Since adolescents’ brains are not fully developed until they reach their mid-20’s, the younger a person is when trying nicotine, the higher the likelihood of addiction, making kids more vulnerable to addiction than adults. This was one of the driving forces for establishing the new regulations – to ultimately protect young people from addictive substances.
The penalties for people who purchase tobacco products under the age of 18 vary by state and are not mandated by the FDA. Some states issue a citation by a law enforcement officer or school principal and the violator is subject to a monetary penalty. Additionally, the Juvenile Court may impose community service depending on whether or not the violator has prior offenses purchasing tobacco products. The FDA requires retailers to verify age for over the counter sales and provide for federal enforcement and consequences for retailers who sell to minors.
These new regulations are a huge step in the right direction to reducing youth access to e-cigarettes and hookah, but it’s still important to talk to your kids about the harm they can cause. Because, like other substances that are illegal for youth, the reality is that many will still be exposed to them, especially since the rules do not fully address advertising and marketing for these products.
For more information, read our statement on the new FDA regulations.