The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), a health advocacy group, has asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take another look at whether the agency should regulate electronic cigarettes. The FDA originally took the position that e-cigarettes were “drug/device combination products” and banned their import. But a federal court struck down that ruling, and instead found that e-cigarettes come under the “tobacco product” category. That appeal was brought by the Soterra company of Arizona, which markets the N-Joy electronic cigarette which has been advertised in the U.S., including during the telecast of the Oscars.
An electronic cigarette is a battery-operated device that resembles a cigarette. It provides a nicotine vapor that the user can inhale, similar to a traditional cigarette. The advocacy group is now pointing out that some e-cigarette advertisements claim that the devices can be used to stop smoking. And under the U.S. Tobacco Control Act, nicotine replacement therapies are also subject to regulation. This would put e-cigarettes in the same category as nicotine gums, patches, and lozenges, all of which are marketed as stop-smoking aids. The group also claims that the electronic cigarette ads can be appealing to youth, who might be tempted to try them. The group pointed to the fact that some of the e-cigarettes have flavors that might be enticing to children.
Another group, Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives (CASAA), has presented a petition to the White House asking that the FDA refrain from regulating electronic cigarettes. Over 27,000 persons have signed that petition, but the White House has not yet made any comment or taken action.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control have also been studying electronic cigarettes, and have found that there is much greater awareness of the devices than there had been in previous years.
Similar regulatory battles are taking place in the U.K. and Australia.