Electronic cigarettes have made the news lately, and not in a good way. This battery-operated device provides an inhaled dose of nicotine to the user in a vapor solution with no lingering smoke or smell; great for long-time cigarette smokers because they aren’t inhaling the thousand of chemicals from a regular cigarette. But e-cigarettes, as they are known, also have an alarming side: the number of high school students using the product has doubled in the past year.
Regulating electronic cigarettes has not been easy. The FDA has the authority to regulate drugs and drug/device combinations, but when they attempted to block shipments of e-cigarettes to the U.S., a manufacturer sued and the court ruled against the FDA. Since the e-cigarettes weren’t marked as tobacco cessation devices, the FDA could not regulate the devices as “drug or drug delivery devices;” however, the court found the FDA has the authority to regulate the e-cigarettes as tobacco products.
State and local governments have more freedom and can set regulations in place faster. Some have already passed laws prohibiting the sale of the devices to minors. Those government entities that have already passed smokefree laws can amend “the definitions of smoke and smoking in local smokefree laws to include e-cigarettes and e-cigarette vapor.” They can also do more to restrict the sales, such as limiting the availability of the devices, prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under 18 years of age, and banning the flavor cartridges to make it less appealing to youth. And since e-cigarettes are considered a tobacco product, they can require dealers to apply for a tobacco license.
For more information on regulation of e-cigarettes, click here.