Court rules that electronic cigarettes are not drugs

Electronic cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes have been ruled a "tobacco product," not a drug. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Electronic cigarettes are a product that have been on the market for more than a year. The FDA has been trying to ban electronic cigarettes as “unapproved drug delivery devices.” Today, however, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the FDA does not have authority to regulate them as anything other than tobacco.

The basics of electronic cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes or “e-cigs” are basically a small, tube-shaped vaporizer. They vaporize a liquid solution to make it inhale-able. Electronic cigarettes are usually packaged with a nicotine solution intended for inhalation. Usually, electronic cigarettes are marketed as “safer” than traditional cigarettes.

The FDA argument against electronic cigarettes

The FDA tried to ban electronic cigarettes earlier this year. It wanted to label electronic cigarettes as “unapproved drug delivery devices.” The FDA banned the importing of electronic cigarettes, alerting customs officials to not accept any shipments of the products. The FDA currently regulates nicotine gums and patches as drugs and certifies their safety and efficacy. The FDA argued that electronic cigarettes should be studied for the same standards of safety and efficacy.

Ruling shields electronic cigarettes from FDA

After the FDA tried to ban electronic cigarettes, two companies filed for an injunction. NJOY and Smoking Anywhere, two companies that develop and market electronic cigarettes, argued that electronic cigarettes should not be subject to FDA review. A lower court and now the U.S. Court of Appeals have ruled that electronic cigarettes are subject to regulation through the 2000 tobacco control act. In 1996, the FDA tried to regulate all tobacco products, but the Supreme Court ruled against the move, 5-4. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a supporter of the FDA when it comes to electronic cigarettes, responded to the ruling by stating “This ruling invites the creation of a wild west of products containing highly addictive nicotine, an alarming prospect for public health.”


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