New rules will put the devices in the same class as tobacco products.
The Food and Drug Administration announced this week that it will reguate electronic cigarettes in the same way that it does tobacco products.
Since smokeless electronic cigarettes were introduced in the United States in 2006, tens of thousands of smokers have been jumping onboard every week to try to kick the habit for good using the device. They are powered by a battery and contain a liquid nicotine mixture derived from tobacco; this mixture is converted into a vapor that can be inhaled by a user, according to WebMD. Many like the idea of an e-cigarette because it satisfies the nicotine addiction sans the harmful smoke and its 4,000 chemicals.
Back in 2010, out of concern that users were consuming tobacco from an unregulated product, the FDA sent warning letters to five distributors of electronic cigarettes, letting them know they would be subject to the same regulation as drugs. However, last year a federal court ruled that the FDA didn’t have the right to block the devices from being imported as long as they weren’t being marketed as a way to treat or cure any actual disease. On Monday the FDA said that it would not try to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. Instead, the agency will develop a strategy to regulate electronic cigarettes as tobacco products under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.
There's no word on when these changes might be implemented, but Craig Weiss, the president of Sottera Inc., the company whose lawsuit got the ball rolling with the FDA, said he was "very happy" with the agency's decision.