FDA Restricts Sales of Flavored E-Cigarettes, Cigars at Retail

The draft guidance is part of the agency’s commitment to limiting youth access to tobacco products.

March 14, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) effectively banned gas stations and convenience stores from selling most flavored electronic cigarettes under its new draft guidance, “Modifications to Compliance Policy for Certain Deemed Tobacco Products,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

First set forth by the agency in November, the directives restrict access to flavored e-cigs that have been popular among minors. “E-cigarette use among kids has become so widespread, so pervasive, and so troubling, that we risk addicting an entire generation of children on nicotine and watching the dramatic gains we’ve made in reducing smoking rates be erased,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who recently announced his intention to leave the agency.

The restrictions will likely be finalized and implemented over the next few months. Brick-and-mortar retailers will be unable to sell flavored e-cigs other than tobacco, menthol or mint unless minors are restricted from entering the store or if those items are sold in a separate location in the store that minors are prohibited from entering. Websites selling flavored vaping products must utilize third-party age-verification and halt bulk purchases.

In addition, the agency will make all e-cigarette manufacturers with products currently on the market to submit those to the agency for review a year earlier (August 2021) than the previous deadline. The FDA also will forbid the sale of all flavored cigars new since February 2007. 

Starting today, comments on this draft guidance may be submitted to the open docket with the same title on Regulations.gov. Comments must be received by April 15, 2019, to ensure that FDA considers them while working on the final guidance.