Banning e-cigarettes on planes flies in the face of science

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Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals refused to reevaluate an appellate court’s December 2010 decision to not grant the FDA the authority to regulate e-cigarettes as medical devices. The FDA has lost another battle in the effort to require e-cigarette manufacturers to conduct expensive clinical trials to prove their devices are safe. These regulations are required of other smoking cessation products such as nicotine patches. But so far e-cigarette manufacturers have convinced the courts that their devices are intended for smoking pleasure and not cessation. Currently, the FDA can only regulate e-cigarettes as “tobacco products.” The FDA still has one last resort, though: it can take its case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Yet this court decision has not stopped the U.S. Department of Transportation from banning e-cigarettes on U.S. flights. Scientifically, this ban is untenable, says ACSH’s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. “People who need to make long airplane trips are miserable and hungry for a nicotine hit. E-cigarettes satisfy these smokers’ nicotine cravings without posing a health or security threat,” she says.