The FDA on Thursday said it will allow companies to sell e-cigarette liquid as e, as long as they provide the user with a safe and effective alternative to tobacco cigarettes.
The announcement came as lawmakers from both parties have called for an end to the ban on flavored e-liquids.
The FDA is also expected to begin issuing new regulations to regulate the use of e-cig liquids and to establish standards for the liquid used in those devices.
The decision comes after an analysis by the National Conference of State Legislatures found e-liquid sales of 0.3% to 1.2% of all cigarettes in the United States in the first quarter of 2017, compared with 3.3%, 2.7% and 2.1% for cigarettes, cigars and hashish respectively.
The analysis, by the Conference Board, found that vaping is one of the fastest-growing segments of the cigarette industry and the number of new products that are sold is expected to continue to grow.
But lawmakers and consumer advocates say the FDA should allow for e-cigs to be used as tobacco products as well.
“We’re not saying that vaping will become a substitute for smoking, but it will become part of the smoking cessation toolkit, the cigarette product that works best,” said Adam Jentleson, legislative director for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
“It’s important that they do not shut off the option of vaping for those who want to use it to quit smoking,” Jentlsons statement said.
“There’s an enormous amount of research that shows that the vaping community is the best and most promising way to quit, and they’ve been proven time and again.”
The FDA has been conducting an extensive review of vaping products since the Food and Drug Administration banned smoking in 2015, and has been examining vaping as a potential method for quitting smoking for some time.
In February, the FDA approved a limited number of nicotine inhalers for people to use to help them quit smoking, a move that will allow for a limited amount of vaping devices to be available to people in the U.S. who want a tobacco cessation tool.
As the FDA prepares to begin to regulate vaping products, the companies that are already in the vaping industry are scrambling to meet the agency’s new requirements.
E-cigarette liquids and flavors that use e-juice will be exempt from federal regulations, and will not have to be tested for the presence of nicotine, which is considered a known carcinogen by the EPA.
And the company that manufactures and markets e-vapor products that will be able to sell to the public will also be allowed to sell in liquid form.
The new rules also would apply to vapor products, but the FDA is not expected to ban vaping in vapor products.
For now, the agency said it is also in the process of finalizing a proposal to allow the sale of ejuice in liquid forms to people with a nicotine allergy.
FDA officials also said that they expect to announce more details about the regulation of e cigs at a press conference on Thursday.
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