RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) -
The FDA is making a push to make it illegal to sell e-cigarettes to kids.
A new proposal to crack down on these types of products doesn't mean immediate changes for the popular battery-powered cigarettes that heat liquid nicotine, but it's a first-step to try and rein-in what has become a fast-growing industry
For years groups like the American Heart Association have been pushing for regulation of e-cigarettes as they grow in popularity. E-cigarettes are marketed as a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes, but critics call the variety of flavors and devices a ploy to draw in kids.
"One of the fears with e-cigarettes is that it re-normalizes smoking," says Cathleen Grzesiek of the American Heart Association. "We've seen a dangerous increase in youth initiation with e-cigarettes."
The FDA is proposing to extend its authority over different tobacco products like e-cigarettes, which are currently not regulated.
The proposed rules would:
-Prevent sales to anyone underage -Prohibit free samples -Require health warnings -And require ingredients to be listed
"We just don't know what's in them and exactly what happens when people use them, but we do know that nicotine is harmful," Grzesiek says.
Pediatrician Dr. David Arkin says while the products are possibly helpful to current smokers, the long term effects of nicotine on kids who don't quit could be deadly.
"For those kids who are not current smokers - and they're going to experiment with these - they're going to become addicted to nicotine the same as if they experimented with cigarettes," he says. "It's bad for heart attacks and strokes and the blood vessels. All those things that we associate with cigarettes are going to be just as bad with e-cigarettes."
But the FDA proposal would not prohibit the sale of flavors or how e-cigarettes can be marketed - something the American Heart Association and others say they'll push to have changed.
The proposed changes are open to public comment for 75 days before a plan is finalized.