E-Cigarettes as Tobacco Cessation Devices in the U.S.




One of the largest public health issues in the United States is cigarette smoking, which is the leading cause of preventable death and accounts for one of every five deaths in the U.S. per year. Because approximately 20% of men and 16% of women are current smokers, and the effects of secondhand smoke are also well-established, there is a large market for both cigarettes as well as e-cigarettes, or “e-cigs”, a new product marketed both as a healthier alternative to cigarettes that can be used anywhere, and as a tobacco cessation device.



Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates e-cigs as  tobacco products, and as such, individual states can create and enforce access and use laws such as those prohibiting sales to minors. However, that is essentially where the FDA’s authority ends. In one landmark case Sotterra v. FDA, Sottera, Inc., manufacturer of NJOY e-cigs, took the FDA to court, resulting in the ruling that the FDA cannot regulate e-cigs as medical devices such as nicotine replacement therapy, thereby preventing quality control, safety testing, or ingredient disclosure requirements for e-cigs.



Though regulating e-cigs as tobacco cessation products may validate their use and convey an idea of “healthiness”, it would also allow for quality control of e-cigs which may be safer than actual cigarettes. Presently, e-cig manufacturers do not have to provide any verifiable information, and instead make claims with no scientific basis. Therefore, for the public’s safety, the FDA should be able to regulate e-cigs as tobacco cessation devices, which would allow the FDA to do things such as conduct safety tests, ban unsafe products, or require certain health measures to be met before someone is able to obtain the product.


One Response to “E-Cigarettes as Tobacco Cessation Devices in the U.S.”

  1. mcwigginsmd Says:

    Very interesting post. Thanks for sharing this. I have mixed feelings about e-cigs being seen as tobacco cessation products, because as an orthopedic surgery resident, I see patients everyday who believe they are doing the right thing by opting for e-cigs instead of smoking. The problem here is that nicotine itself is a key determinant of bone health and healing in our patient population and switching to e-cigs, while less damaging to some, does not protect the patient and may offer a false sense of security. Many of our patients who switch to e-cigs lose their motivation to quit tobacco because they feel e-cigs have no detrimental effect on their health. Thus, we have a hard time convincing these patients to attempt cessation, as many feel they have already accomplished their goal. I do feel that the FDA should be able to regulate this rapidly expanding market, however labeling e-cigs as tobacco cessation products may be a big mistake that will only prolong true cessation of nicotine products in the long run.

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