Proponents and critics of e-cigarettes have been waiting for years for the FDA to deliver rules for the devices. Supporters say e-cigs could help millions of Americans quit smoking regular cigarettes. But anti-smoking groups argue that not enough is known about the ingredients and health effects of e-cigs, which use a battery to heat a liquid nicotine solution that is inhaled.
The agency attempted to ban e-cigs in 2009 on the grounds the products were “an unapproved drug-device combination” under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act. But a federal appeals court in 2010 ruled in favor of manufacturers who said they were not medical devices, and should be regulated as tobacco products, allowing wide-open marketing and sales. Since then, the FDA, which began overseeing tobacco products in 2009, has worked on rules that some predict will impose restrictions on marketing and sales of e-cigs to minors.
At the hearing, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) criticized Hamburg and the FDA for delays in issuing a proposed rule, saying the marketing of e-cigs is a major public health hazard. “Let's not let another month pass with this thing gathering dust in some bureaucrat's closet,” he said.
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