A federal judge may soon decide whether the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has the authority to regulate electronic (e-) cigarettes as drug-delivery devices, the Christian Science Monitor reported Oct. 17.
The case challenging FDA authority over e-cigarettes was filed in Washington, D.C., in February, and a ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon on the case is expected soon.
The battery-powered devices provide a smokeless dose of nicotine to users and contain no tobacco. FDA officials contends that e-cigarettes are drug-delivery devices similar to nicotine gum, but the industry says they are merely alternatives to tobacco smoking.
Some health experts see the products as a safer choice than smoking, while others point to a risk of addiction. An FDA spokesperson said the agency has done preliminary research on e-cigarettes and their marketing. “What we are saying is for them to be sold, you should be able to evaluate how safe and effective they are — especially if they are a smoking replacement used over several years, perhaps a lifetime,” said the FDA's Siobhan DeLancey.