Health Team

UNC researcher helped shape new FDA regulations on e-cigarettes

Posted May 6, 2016 6:47 p.m. EDT

WRAL Health Team

— On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration announced that it is expanding its authority over all tobacco products.

As the e-cigarette industry boomed over the last nine years, manufactures of the devices, and of the flavored e-liquids containing nicotine, faced no federal regulations, until now.

"There has been a growing body of evidence in research that is showing the potential harms and dangers of e-cigarettes and the chemicals within," said Dr. Rebecca Williams, a researcher with UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

According to Williams, new FDA regulations will require each manufacturer to prove the safety of their products.

The flavored e-liquids are often promoted as FDA approved, but that only means they are safe to ingest.

"And it is important to remember that safe to ingest does mean safe to vaporize and inhale," Williams said.

Williams' Internet Tobacco Vendors Study helped to influence new regulations. She said it represents 16 years of following the sales and practices of online vendors who sell tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and e-liquids.

She said a major concern is children under the age of 18.

"In general, we found that there is very little age verification used in online tobacco sales, and it is very easy for kids to get them," Williams said.

Her study found that 95 percent of orders were simply left at the door - no questions asked.

New federal regulations will require age verification with a photo ID. There will be no vending machine sales and no distribution of free samples.

Williams said the new regulations should force many smaller manufacturers to close their businesses. Larger manufactures are better prepared to meet new regulations, but they will have to account for all the ingredients and the safety of their vaping devices.

Smoking cessation specialists say vaping with e-cigarettes can be a tool to help smokers to quit, but Williams said research shows that most people are becoming duel users.