The Food and Drug Administration’s legal rationale for regulating e-cigarettes as “tobacco products,” even though they do not contain tobacco, is that they deliver nicotine derived from tobacco. But e-cigarettes do not always do that. There are many varieties of nicotine-free e-liquids, sold in disposable e-cigarettes, replaceable cartridges and bottles for refilling vaporizer tanks. Do those liquids and the systems in which they are used also qualify as tobacco products?
The answer to that question is vitally important for manufacturers, including vape stores that mix their own liquids, since it will determine which products are subject to the onerous, expensive FDA requirements that are expected to put all but the biggest e-cigarette companies out of business. But judging from correspondence that Boston University public health professor Michael Siegel posted today, the FDA is incapable of giving a succinct—or even comprehensible—answer to this basic question.