E-cigarette distributors fired up over recent FDA announcement

Seven months after Abilene’s only retailer of electronic cigarettes opened for business, the Food and Drug Administration announced Monday it plans to regulate smokeless electronic cigarettes as tobacco products.

The announcement is considered good news for e-cigarette distributors like Roey Chen because regulation of electronic cigarettes as a tobacco product is less strict that previously proposed regulation as a drug-delivery device. Chen is owner of the electronic cigarette kiosk inside the Mall of Abilene.

FDA e cigarettes

FDA e cigarettes

In September of last year, the FDA announced it had taken action against five e-cigarette companies the agency claimed violated the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

According to The Associated Press, the FDA previously attempted to regulate the product as a drug delivery device. After an appeals court struck that idea down, the federal agency decided instead to focus on providing guidance for the industry.

In a letter to stakeholders this week, the FDA said it intends to treat previously unregulated e-cigarettes the same way it treats traditional cigarettes or other tobacco products, rather than trying to regulate them under stricter rules for drug-delivery devices.

E-cigarettes are plastic and metal devices used to heat a liquid nicotine solution, creating a vapor that is inhaled as a smoker would inhale traditional cigarette smoke.

“People smoke them to stop smoking regular cigarettes,” Chen said. “It gives you the feeling of the habit without any of the chemicals. It’s the healthy way to smoke.”

According to Chen, more than 30 varieties of the electronic sort mimic almost every brand of cigarettes on the market, making it the perfect tool to wean an individual off traditional tobacco.

He has met many individuals in Abilene who have been able to stop smoking thanks to the product he sells, he said, and even used the product to kick his 10-year smoking habit.

“I can run, I don’t have to catch my breath, I don’t stink,” he said. “I just feel better. I feel a big change.”

He believes the e-cigarette is a successful alternative because it removes the unwanted effects of smoking but allows smokers to continue the habitual activity of lighting up. Although ex-smokers like Chen swear by the product, the FDA does not approve the device as a smoking cessation aid.

According to the FDA website, the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act states that e-cigarettes are not considered drug delivery devices unless they are marketed for therapeutic purposes, but that products “made or derived from tobacco” can be regulated as “tobacco products.”

The agency plans to develop a strategy to regulate these devices as tobacco products under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

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