This month, for the first time, the federal government will regulate all tobacco products by banning their sale to children under 18. Previously, the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authority covered cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco. But beginning on August 8, a new rule extends that authority to include e-cigarettes, all cigars and hookah and pipe tobacco.

According to the FDA, the American Cancer Society, and other health authorities, tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of disease and death in the United States. Of specific concern is the fact that e-cigarette use among youth doubled from 2011 to 2012, with 1.78 million high school and middle school students having ever used e-cigarettes (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013). And, in 2014—for the first time—more teenagers used e-cigarettes than smoked cigarettes (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015).

Stemming from its responsibility to improve public health and to reduce tobacco use by minors, the FDA now will regulate all products that meet the definition of “tobacco product.” The rule will allow the FDA to:

  • Require photo identification for buyers younger than 26
  • Prohibit vending machine sales (except in adult-only facilities)
  • Mandate health warnings indicating that products contain nicotine, and
  • Require manufacturers to register with the FDA and provide their products’ ingredient lists.

The new requirements provide additional means of reducing the number of illnesses and early deaths related to the use of tobacco products.