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FDA to Regulate E-Cigarettes Just Like Tobacco

Agency Will Not Regulate E-Cigarettes Under the Stricter Rules That Apply to Medical Products

Courts Step Into E-Cigarette Controversy continued...

The FDA’s decision not to appeal to the Supreme Court could be seen as a victory for the e-cigarette makers and distributors.

But the FDA’s letter makes it clear that the agency plans to maintain focus on making sure the products aren’t pitched by marketers as therapeutic devices.

The FDA said in a letter September 2010 sent to e-cigarette distributors that their products were being marketed illegally and were subject to rules governing drugs. Distributors reacted with a suit that ruled in the December 2010 decision that accepted the e-cigarette industry’s position.

What Are E-Cigarettes?

E-cigarettes have been marketed as a safer substitute for real cigarettes. The metallic tubes, which look like cigarettes, consist of a heating element and a cartridge containing a liquid with nicotine from tobacco plants. When users inhale, a nicotine vapor is emitted. The tips appear to glow.

Matthew L. Myers, president of the Washington-based Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, says the organization was disappointed that the FDA did not appeal the federal appeals court ruling. The status quo now means manufacturers can “add nicotine to a wide range of products without the stringent regulation traditionally applied to smoking cessation medications and other non-tobacco products to which nicotine has been added.”

However, he also says in a letter posted on the group’s web site that the FDA “has taken appropriate action to protect public health by announcing that it intends to assert authority over other tobacco products that meet the statutory definition of ‘tobacco products’” under federal law.

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