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What You Need to Know About the New FDA Tobacco Rules

A quick rundown of the new FDA rules regulating e-cigarettes and cigars.
Image: Working on an e-cigarette
Vapoligist Tristan Ambat, left, explains to customer Lee Coats that his modified e-cig, or "mod," needs a rebuild, at the Henley Vaporium in New York City. Jim Seida / NBC News

The Food and Drug Administration took on federal regulatory authority Thursday for e-cigarettes, cigars and hookahs — seven years after it was given the OK to regulate cigarettes.

Here’s a quick rundown of what the new rules say (and what they don't):

It bans sales to kids

Children under 18 can no longer buy e-cigarettes, cigars or other tobacco products. The FDA says it plans to enforce this rule just as it enforces bans on cigarettes to minors, with undercover visits and fines.

Image: Scot Taylor, left, manager of the Vapor Spot and customer Bruce Schillin, 32 exhale vapor from e-cigarettes
Scot Taylor, left, manager of the Vapor Spot and customer Bruce Schillin, 32 exhale vapor from e-cigarettes at the e-cigarette store in Sacramento, Calif.Rich Pedroncelli / AP

It forces makers to submit products for review

Any product that came onto the market after 2007 must be FDA-approved. The FDA approval won’t necessarily mean a product is safe, but the process is designed to ensure the product is either safe or equivalent to something else that was already on the market.

Sellers and manufacturers must prove their claims

Without regulation, makers and sellers of e-cigarettes, cigars and hookahs were free to make any claims they wanted about their product, and often did—claiming they were safer that traditional tobacco products, for instance. The new rules let FDA decide if these claims are true.

Products will have to carry health warnings

They will have to carry a label saying: “WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.” They’ll also have to specifically warn pregnant women of the dangers to a developing fetus.

What the rules do not do:

They don't ban e-cigarettes

The FDA does not have the authority to ban tobacco-based products. Any product on the market before 2007 is exempt from the rule. What FDA can do, however, is decide if new inventions can be marketed.

They don't ban candy and other flavorings

Advocates say flavored vaping products and cigars have lured kids into trying them, and the FDA agrees. But it’s put off for now the question of whether to regulate these flavors. FDA signaled strongly its first target will be flavored cigars.

They don't ban ads

The new rules do not prevent advertising of products, not even on television.