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Should e-cigarettes be considered tobacco products?

Since e-cigarettes hit the market, they have been the subject of intense debate.  Are electronic cigarettes a cessation tool or an alternative smoking device? Should they be subject to the same smoke-free air laws as tobacco products? Should they be taxed at a similar rate as cigarettes?

In Toulouse, France, the courts just took a big step toward answering some of these questions. Recently, a licensed tobacco retailer filed a complaint against an e-cigarette retailer that set up shop nearby. The complaint argued that the e-cigarette retailer was violating French public health laws by selling and advertising the e-cigarettes. Subject to French law, only licensed retailers may sell tobacco products and they cannot advertise them.

The French court ruled that because e-cigarettes are an alternative to a tobacco product, they constitute a “tobacco product” under French law. Because e-cigarettes contain nicotine, but no tobacco, France’s electronic cigarette stakeholder’s Group (CACE) argues that e-cigarettes are a consumer product, not a tobacco product. Read more here>

In the U.S., the debate continues. The FDA has just begun to deal with the legal issues of electronic cigarettes. Forty attorneys general from across the United States urged the FDA to regulate electronic cigarettes the same way they regulate cigarettes. Read the letter here>.  Several states in the U.S. have begun to regulate electronic cigarettes in the same manner as cigarettes, with smoke-free air laws- Utah,  North DakotaNew Jersey and most recently New York and taxes in Minnesota.

Do you think electronic cigarettes and cigarettes should be regulated the same way? 

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