E-Cigarettes Can't be Banned, Regulated by FDA

By Laura Strachan, Esq. on December 09, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Variety is the spice of life. The importance of options also applies to tobacco products.

E-cigarettes are the most recent take on tobacco and a recent U.S. Court of Appeals opinion affirms that the tobacco vapor cigarette is, in fact, a tobacco product, rather than a drug as the Food and Drug Administration argued.

The issue before the court hinged on an important classification: whether electronic cigarettes are a tobacco product or a drug or device. If they were classified as the latter, they would fall under regulation by the FDA. In ruling that e-cigarettes are a tobacco product, the FDA's role is limited to overseeing the marketing of the product, but it cannot restrict the sale.

Electronic cigarette manufacturer Njoy markets their product as a tobacco alternative for "smoking pleasure" and not as a device or therapy product -- a promotion approach that the court found convincing. "We're thrilled. Now we can continue to market e-cigarettes under the Tobacco Act," Business Week quotes company president Craig Weiss on the victory.

The well-founded concern on the part of the FDA was over the company's persuasive marketing claims of a highly-addictive product (nicotine) that can now go unregulated by the FDA. For now, regulation of e-cigarettes will be mostly at the hands of federal regulators. With a failed appeal, the FDA is considering its next steps to gain control over the devices.

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