(WBIR) Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration proposed new rules to regulate electronic cigarettes and tobacco products. Currently, the FDA regulates cigarettes, roll-your-own tobacco, and smokeless products such as snuff. The FDA has tried to regulate e-cigarettes in the past but was unable to get the authority.
The proposed rules include banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, requiring warning labels, and federal approval.
eVape Lounge in Powell is one of the newest e-cigarette and vapor lounges to open in East Tennessee. Its general manager, Seth Barber, said he smoked for 15 years, sometimes smoking one pack per day. But for the last month, the father of two hasn't picked up one cigarette. Instead, he picks up his e-cig.
"It's cool. It's a great thing to have more money and still get the relief that I want and that I crave when I was smoking," he said.
Barber said the eVape Lounge is one of several vapor businesses that already don't sell to minors. He also said eVape only sells "juicies" by companies that have voluntarily put warning labels on the bottles in addition to the ingredients.
"I do like the the FDA wants to get involved to make sure that it's a safe product, but I don't like some of the ways they're going about it," Barber said.
The one problem Barber said he has with the FDA is it wanting to classify e-cigarettes as a tobacco product.
"It's not tobacco and I don't want to have to have some of those regulations on tobacco to involve us," he said.
Barber fears if the FDA regulates e-cigarettes as a tobacco products his business, and the many others, may not be able to allow customers the opportunity to sample the many flavors.
"We want you to find a flavor that you'll use and enjoy instead of going back to smoking," he said.
Barber said there are options for both those who want nicotine and those who simply want the flavor without any nicotine.
The Knox County Health Department said the FDA proposed regulations are a step forward in informing users about what's in e-cigs.
"We don't have a lot of data on how much nicotine is in the liquid. We don't have a lot of data on how many different chemicals are in the vapor. And so the FDA stepping in and including this in tobacco products will give us that opportunity to get that information," said Director Dr. Martha Buchanan.
For Barber, he said e-cigarettes have given him the opportunity to once again enjoy things he said smoking cigarettes for 15 years took away.
"I can smell and I can taste again. It's fantastic," Barber said.
The proposed FDA regulations are not a done deal yet. There will be a 75-day comment period followed by a vote on a final set of rules.
To find out more about the FDA's take on e-cigarettes visit http://www.fda.gov/newsevents/publichealthfocus/ucm172906.htm
eVape Lounge (603 E. Emory Road, Suite 108, Powell, TN) will hold its grand opening on May 3, 2014.