The federal government will start regulating the sale of electronic cigarettes come August, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
After years of deliberation, the Food and Drug Administration has finalized a set of sweeping rules that will keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of children. Notable points in the landmark announcement made last May include a ban on e-cigarette sales to anyone under 18 and a requirement of photo identification from any buyer under the age of 26.
The availability, marketing, and dangers of e-cigarettes to children have long been a topic of debate, with many arguing the technology as a potential gateway to tobacco cigarettes for a younger generation. The introduction of flavored e-cigarette fluids have attracted minors into quickly adopting the trend, with choices from blueberry to butterscotch making the development of an early smoking habit easier and more appealing.
While e-cigarettes are objectively healthier compared to tobacco, they still contain nicotine — not to mention their long-term effects remaining a mystery to scientists. Nicotine poisoning remains a threat no matter what the actual product tastes like. “On average, every three hours, a poison center receives a call about a young child exposed to an e-cigarette or liquid nicotine,” states Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. “That’s more than seven children each day.”
Dr. Smith has recently published an analysis of calls to the National Poison Data System, which revealed that instances of nicotine poisoning among minors have skyrocketed by 1500% between 2013 and 2015. Most cases involved a child accidentally swallowing the e-cigarette fluid. Nearly half of the exposed children were under the age of two.