(credit: Kieran McCarthy)

The 2017 Agriculture Appropriations Bill may not seem like a stirring piece of legislation to most, but it raised quite a few eyebrows last week as it passed through a House subcommittee with a key amendment—one that aims to spare the vast majority of electronic cigarettes from impending federal regulations.
The bipartisan effort to protect the burgeoning e-cig market is just the latest in a long-smoldering debate reignited by the Food and Drug Administration’s plans this year to begin regulating the new devices as it does traditional tobacco products.

The crux of the controversy is about whether e-cigarettes act more as a gateway into or a ticket out of dangerous tobacco use, the single largest cause of preventable deaths in the US.

E-cig flavors. (credit: Wikimedia)

Proponents argue that the new FDA regulations will protect children from bad habits.

For instance, one of the proposed rules will prevent e-cig makers from using youth-based marketing—like edgy, rebellious ads and candy-flavored e-cigs—that can hook kids into lifelong nicotine addictions and deadly tobacco habits.
Such marketing strategies were first used by tobacco companies decades ago and were highly successful until the FDA banned the practice. With e-cig companies already copying the tactics, many politicians and public health experts have chided the FDA for not rolling out regulations faster.

The agency first proposed rules back in 2014.
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