SALT LAKE CITY – The E-Cigarette industry has come under criticism because it hasn't been regulated, until now.
The Food and Drug Administration laid out new rules in nearly 500 pages. It’s a move health advocacy groups applaud, and industry leaders say will hurt local businesses.
E-cigs, cigars and hookahs will now be regulated like traditional cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. The rule bans the sale of e-cigs to anyone under the age of 19 – a law Utah already follows.
E-cigarette producers would also have to register with the FDA within the next two years and disclose the ingredients in their products.
“These are regulations that are essentially regulating us back to before the industry even existed,” said Aaron Frazier, Executive Director for Utah Smoke Free Association.
Frazier says small businesses will suffer the most.
“Just looking at a small company that may have 20 e-liquid SKUs [Stock Keeping Unit], you're looking at $19 million in fees that a small business owner has to apply for with no guarantee that it’s going to be reviewed and approved," he said.
State health leaders say the regulations are overdue, especially considering the popularity of e-cigarette use among teens.
“These are meant to protect the public, create a tobacco free generation, and make sure youth don't have access to these products,” said Brittany Karzan, Tobacco Prevention for Utah Department of Health.
Cade Hyde is part of Students Against Electronic Vaping, a group who pushed for stricter e-cig legislation. He’s pleased the federal government has decided to step in.
“I think it's a great start," he said. "We want them to be defined as a tobacco product.”
But Frazier worries the ban will backfire and e-cig users will revert back to traditional smoking.
“While we've made huge strides in reducing smoking rates within both teens and adults in the past 5 to 10 years, this is going to be reversed, because these items are going to be banned," he said.
Advocates say this is a good first step, but the FDA still has work to do. They'd like to see the agency prohibit the sale of candy flavored tobacco products, and clamp down on marketing targeting children.
The rules go into effect in 90 days.