E-Cigarettes: 5 Burning Legal Issues

By Brett Snider, Esq. on June 17, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

E-cigarettes are selling like inhalable hotcakes since their approval in the United States, but these "safe" cigarettes still face challenges from state and federal laws.

These nicotine-vapor devices are currently regulated similar to other tobacco products, but there are some hot legal differences.

Here are five legal issues affecting e-cigarettes:

1. FDA Can't Control Sales.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tried to get e-cigarettes regulated as "medical devices," which would have placed the FDA in control of where they could be sold. But the FDA's attempt failed after a federal appellate decision in 2010.

Although the federal government can regulate the marketing of e-cigarettes under the same laws that govern other tobacco products, the standards are much lower than for medical devices under the FDA.

2. Flavored Cigarette Ban.

In 2009 the FDA was successful in placing a ban on flavored cigarettes (excluding menthol) sold in the United States.

This ban has not been lifted, and yet e-cigarettes, like the ones sold by Blu, are currently available with flavor cartridges like Pina Colada and Java Jolt.

3. Who's Verifying 'Therapeutic' Claims?

An American Cancer Society group approached the FDA in 2013 and asked them to re-evaluate the use of electronic cigarettes as "tobacco cessation tools," reports PC Magazine.

Nicotine gum and patches have claims that are regulated by the FDA under their drug/medical device rules. But companies that sell electronic cigarettes may be hyping their therapeutic benefits without any oversight.

4. Indoor Smoking Bans.

The common myth is that electronic cigarettes are exempted from a slew of state and local indoor smoking ordinances. But in states like New Jersey, smoking e-cigarettes inside a public place is illegal.

Remember also that each business can choose to enforce stronger policies on e-smoking, even barring smoking outside as well as inside their stores.

5. Potential Health, Safety Risks.

As many regulators have been astute to point out, the long term health effects of e-cigarettes is still widely unknown.

Depending on which electronic smoke you decide to purchase, it may very well blow up in your face, literally.

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