The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is inching closer to regulating the burgeoning electronic cigarette industry, with the latest indication coming in the form of talks with E-cig companies about potentially banning outright the online sale of the devices, even as their popularity continues to climb.
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the FDA has been meeting with manufacturers to receive input on whether, and how, it should begin regulating the industry. The agency is expected to reveal its regulatory plans in October.
The talks, which were sought by E-cig executives, included the online ban proposal as a means of potentially preventing minors from buying the devices – many of which contain nicotine or vaporize (but do not combust) actual tobacco. A proposal to establish a minimum age of purchase at the Federal level is also being discussed.
It’s in the business interest of traditional tobacco product manufacturers to bring the power of government to E-cigarette makers’ doorstep. A Wells Fargo analyst told the newspaper that the industry, which expects to earn $1 billion in revenue this year, could see it profits jump to $10 billion within five years.
New FDA Center for Tobacco Products director Mitch Zeller said any announcement of proposed regulations would be followed by a period of time during which the public and industry advocates could provide feedback that ultimately could refine any final FDA policies. But, he added, the question of whether the FDA is getting involved in regulating the electronic cigarette market is now a question of when – not if.