Electronic Cigarettes in the U.S. and their Regulation

The FDA is in planning to change the rules so that e-cigs can be treated as tobacco-based cigarettes. With this electronic cigarette makers and distributors have literally won a temporary battle against the FDA. Generally, e-cigs are devices made of metal and plastic that contain liquid nicotine solution inside a cartridge. The vapors inhaled by the smoker are formed by the heating of this solution (called E-juice) by e-cigarette atomizers. An e-cig is provided with a glowing light at the tip that gives the sensation of a real burning cigarette.

According to makers and users, ecigarettes are useful in address two facets of traditional cigarettes. While the first aspect is related to nicotine addiction, the second is related to the different aspects of smoking. The second aspect involves the way the cigarette is held, it is puffed, the smoked is seen and the motion of the hand. All without the over 4,000 chemicals that the traditional cigarette has. Electronic cigarettes were initially marketed overseas and it was in 2006 that these modern cigarettes were introduced in America. Today, the e-cigarette market counts millions of users worldwide and every week there are tens of thousands of new users.

Some of the electronic cigarette manufacturers have been claiming that these cigarettes can help users quit smoking traditional cigarettes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are over 46 million smokers in the U.S. and more than 40% of them try to quit smoking. However, contrary to nicotine gums and patches, electronic smokes have been operating in a legal gray area. Last year, a case was lost by the FDA where it wanted to treat e-cigs as devices for drug-delivery and not as tobacco products. And, it was ruled by the court that they should be regulated not as drug-delivery devices but as tobacco products.

The introduction of electronic cigarettes offered FDA a new opportunity to expand its regulatory power. However, it was not more than a decade ago when it had lost to regulate smokeless cigarettes and tobacco. However, FDA followed other ways to regulate electronic cigarettes.

The FDA in the year 2009, displayed concern towards e-cigs, saying that it can enhance tobacco use and nicotine addiction in the youth, and started confining e-cigarettes shipments at the border. After the examination, the FDA concluded that e-cigs fell within the definition of the product under the Act, but it was challenged by the distributors of E-cigarettes. But, the D.C. Court of Appeals in 2010 confirmed an earlier court decision that FDA couldn’t regulate e-cigs as devices or drugs under the Act. The FDA was allowed only to regulate the marketing of e-cigarettes under the Tobacco Act.

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