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Altria, the parent company for Philip Morris USA, expressed support for Thursday’s proposal, saying the FDA has “an unprecedented opportunity to advance public health goals by recognizing that some types of tobacco products may have significantly lower risks compared to cigarettes.”

“We believe FDA should adopt a regulatory framework that recognizes the differences in tobacco products and fosters innovation that may benefit public health,” it added.

Another e-cigarette manufacturer said the rules could have been a lot worse.

“These regulations will increase the barrier to entry to e-cigarettes and will definitely raise costs for our brands to operate, but not as initially feared,” said Michael Tolmach, CEO of Clifton, N.J.-based Eonsmoke. “At first glance it seems that the regulations will not stifle innovation within our sector while still allowing oversight to ensure solid manufacturing practices and responsible marketing.”

Anti-smoking advocates said the proposal is welcome news, but the government should stop dragging its feet.

“Great first step,” John R. Seffrin, chief executive of the ACS Cancer Action Network, said. “But don’t let it be another five years to take the second step.”