Reaction to Major FDA Regulatory Announcement

Rebecca Williams Headshot 2015ITV study director Rebecca S. Williams, Ph.D., applauds the FDA’s decision to extend its authority over all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced this extension of its authority on May 5, 2016. The FDA previously only regulated cigarettes and related products, and smokeless tobacco. As part of this greater span of control, the agency will ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.

Williams said the ruling addresses some of the problems her research has found with online sales of these products, including poor age verification and widespread sales to minors, free samples, lack of health warnings, and lack of disclosure of product ingredients.

“The regulations announced today are based on strong research evidence, and will have a substantial impact on the tobacco and e-cigarette industry,” Williams said. “They will also pave the way for more evidence-based regulations to come addressing specifics of issues like product marketing, allowable methods for payment and shipping for online sales, and the availability of flavored tobacco products. After flavored cigarettes were banned in 2009 for their high youth appeal, many manufacturers and consumers switched to unregulated flavored little cigars and e-cigarettes. Today’s announcement paves the way for regulation of all flavored tobacco and vapor products.”

Last year, Williams was principal investigator for a study that found teens in North Carolina could easily buy electronic cigarettes online. This was despite a North Carolina law that banned the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and required online vendors to verify customer age. Williams said the findings underscored the need for federal regulations.

Dr. Williams is available for comment. Please contact Laura Oleniacz for interview requests at 919-445-4219 or

ITV research related to e-cigarettes:

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