The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced new rules Thursday for the regulation of e-cigarettes, as well as other tobacco-related products.
The rules come two years after they decided to impose regulations on the growing industry, and medical professionals applaud the new rules. However, those who sell e-cigarettes said the new rules could put them out of business.
"Vaping" is a multi-billion business and former tobacco smokers said e-cigarettes have helped them kick the habit.
"I was cigarette smoker from the time I was 11 until the time I was 26. (Since e-cigarettes), I haven't had a cigarette in three and a half years," said Michael Haynes, the manager of Smoque Vapours on the city's North Side.
E-cigarettes don't contain tobacco, which is why they previously were not regulated by the FDA. However, Thursday's action changes that.
The FDA said the booming e-cigarette market, along with other tobacco-related products, such as cigars, hookah and pipe tobacco, will now face the same federal oversight as regular cigarettes.
The new rules will ban the sale of e- cigarettes to minors -- something Illinois state law already does. The rules also include health warnings for products that hit the market after February 2007 and must submit to a federal review.
"We cannot let the enormous progress that we have made toward a tobacco-free generation be undermined by products that impact health and economy in this way," said Sylvia Burwell, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
Chicago area shops that sell e-cigarette said they make and sell dozens of different vaping products. Owners fear FDA approval for each is going to be incredibly expensive.
"What I'm fearful of is that the costs associated with that are going to be more than this company ever made all together," Haynes said. "I think it's going to put a lot of business nationwide just completely out of business. We have to close the doors."
Dr. Matthew Siegel, an oncologist at Edward Hospital Cancer Center in Naperville, said FDA regulation is long overdue.
"Just because it could put someone out of business doesn't mean that that it's OK to be recklessly endangering our youth," Siegel said.
Doctors worry that e-cigarettes are a gateway to regular cigarettes. Vaping among high school students has skyrocketed, according to the FDA. In 2011, only 1.5 percent of students used e-cigarettes. Last year, use among high schoolers rose to 16 percent - a 900 percent increase.
FDA releases new regulations for e-cigarettes
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