WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) appears to be performing a complicated balancing act with electronic cigarettes, at once easing rules by delaying deadlines for manufacturers to apply for new-product approval while also tightening its grip by announcing a new education campaign designed to deter youth from vaping.
The FDA announced Aug. 8 that it would pursue what it called “a strategic, new public-health education campaign aimed at discouraging the use of e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems (or ENDS) by kids.”
In a press release, the agency said it plans this fall to expand its “The Real Cost” public-education campaign to include messaging to teens about the dangers of using these products, while developing a full-scale campaign to launch in 2018. It is the first time the FDA will be using public-health education to specifically target youth use of e-cigarettes or other ENDS.
The announcement comes about a week after the FDA said it would delay the August 2018 deadline for manufacturers of ENDS products to submit FDA-approval applications, pushing the date back to August 2022. It’s a move that many in the tobacco industry saw as positive.
“While we pursue a policy that focuses on addressing the role that nicotine plays in keeping smokers addicted to combustible cigarettes, and to help move those who cannot quit nicotine altogether onto less harmful products, we will also continue to work vigorously to keep all tobacco products out of the hands of kids,” said Dr. Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the FDA.
Addressing the schedule it announced in July, the agency said it will put nicotine and the issue of addiction at the center of its efforts.
“This policy aims to strike a careful balance between the regulation of all tobacco products and the opportunity to encourage development of innovative tobacco products that may be less dangerous than combustible cigarettes,” the agency said in a statement. “But, importantly, the approach also continues to focus on the need to reduce the access and appeal of all tobacco products to youth, including e-cigarettes and other ENDS, and maintains all of the existing regulations that currently apply to these products.”