When Congress passed a law in 2009 giving the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate vaping products and electronic cigarettes, it only applied to nicotine-based products.
When the FDA moved to ban flavored e-cigarettes, which were popular with teenagers, several companies decided to switch from using natural nicotine to using artificial nicotine made in a lab. Because of a loophole in the 2009 law, the new products were not subject to FDA regulations. They were also able to sell them online, even on sites like Amazon that ban the sale of nicotine products.
As a result, several brands, including Puff Bar, became extremely popular with high school students.
In response to the loophole, Congress passed a bill last month giving the FDA the authority to regulate e-cigarettes that use artificial nicotine.
"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has made it one of our top priorities to reduce youth use of these products. But in recent years, some in the e-cigarette industry have responded to our efforts by trying to skirt federal regulation," FDA officials wrote in The Hill.
The new regulatory scheme likely won't result in an immediate ban of the products. Instead, companies that make products using synthetic nicotine will have 30 days to submit them for review.
The chances that the products will eventually be pulled from the shelves are high, as the FDA has already rejected more than one million applications for flavored e-cigarettes that could be popular with teenagers.