On August 8, 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took its first steps toward regulating electronic cigarettes, making them subject to extensive review and harder to get into the hands of minors.

So, why does the FDA have the authority to regulate these products? In 2009, President Obama signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act into law. Commonly known as the “Tobacco Control Act,” this law gave the FDA the ability to ban tobacco product sales to minors, tobacco-brand sponsorships at sports and entertainment events, and giveaways of sample cigarettes and promotional items. In early 2016, the FDA extended its authority over electronic cigarettes and hookahs.

What do these regulations mean?

  • All vaping products currently on the market will be required to submit a pre–market approval application to stay on the market.
  • Manufacturers must submit ingredient lists and quantities of harmful and potentially harmful ingredients. This includes vape shops that mix their own e-cigarette liquids and modify parts of e-cigarettes.
  • Vaping shops must check a photo ID of everyone younger than 27, and sell only to people who are 18 or older.
  • Products must be labeled with the following statement: “WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.”

At Breathe Pennsylvania, we are glad that a regulatory body is stepping in to prevent minors from easily accessing these products. Last year, 16% of high school students used e-cigarettes, up from 1.5% in 2011. We have been working with Pennsylvania state legislators to encourage the passage of tighter restrictions, and despite our efforts, the state of Pennsylvania was only one of two states without some form of regulations before the FDA stepped in.


1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016, April). Youth and tobacco use. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/youth_data/tobacco_use/.
2. Food and Drug Administration. (2016). Manufacturing. Retrieved from http://www.fda.gov/TobaccoProducts/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/Manufacturing/default.htm.
3. Food and Drug Administration. (2016). Retailer overview of FDA regulations for selling tobacco products. Retrieved from http://www.fda.gov/TobaccoProducts/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/Retail/ucm205021.htm.
4. Food and Drug Administration. (2016). Tobacco Control Act. Retrieved from http://www.fda.gov/TobaccoProducts/Labeling/RulesRegulationsGuidance/ucm246129.htm.
5. Leonard, K. (2016, August 5). Changes to vaping rules imminent. Retrieved from http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-08-05/fda-regulation-on-e-cigarettes-set-to-begin