By Caroline Humer and Clarece Polke NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government on Thursday took wide-ranging steps to crack down for the first time on e-cigarettes and cigars, growing in popularity among teens, and banned sales to anyone under age 18 in hopes of sparing a new generation from nicotine addiction. The Food and Drug Administration's action brought regulation of e-cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco and hookah tobacco in line with existing rules for cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and roll-your-own tobacco.
The United States Thursday issued a sweeping ban on sales of e-cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco and hookahs to those under 18, marking the first time these products have been federally regulated. The ban will go into effect in 90 days, according to the US Food and Drug Administration, which issued the final rule after several years of study and debate. Until now, the marketplace for tobacco products outside of traditional cigarettes has been like "the wild, wild west," said Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products.