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FDA authorizes first electronic cigarette

Decision applies to only one brand, its tobacco-flavored nicotine cartridges by MATTHEW PERRONE THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | October 14, 2021 at 1:54 a.m.

WASHINGTON -- For the first time, the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday authorized an electronic cigarette, saying R.J. Reynolds' vaping device can help smokers cut back on conventional cigarettes.

E-cigarettes have been sold in the U.S. for more than a decade with minimal government oversight or research. Facing a court deadline, the FDA has been conducting a review of vaping products to determine which ones should be allowed to remain on the market.

The agency said in September that it had rejected applications for more than a million e-cigarettes and related products, mainly because of their potential appeal to underage teens. But regulators delayed making decisions on most of the major vaping companies, including market leader Juul, which is still pending.

Tuesday's decision applies only to Vuse's Solo e-cigarette and its tobacco-flavored nicotine cartridges. The agency said data from the company showed that the e-cigarette helped smokers significantly reduce their use of cigarettes.

While the products can now be legally sold in the U.S., the FDA stressed that they are neither safe nor "FDA approved," and that people who don't smoke shouldn't use them.

Launched in 2013, Vuse Solo is a rechargeable metallic device that is shaped like a traditional cigarette. The FDA said it rejected 10 other requests from the company for other flavored products, but did not disclose details. The agency is still reviewing the company's request to sell a menthol-flavored nicotine formula.

"Today's authorizations are an important step toward ensuring all new tobacco products undergo the FDA's robust, scientific premarket evaluation," said Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA's tobacco center, in a statement.

"The manufacturer's data demonstrates its tobacco-flavored products could benefit addicted adult smokers who switch to these products -- either completely or with a significant reduction in cigarette consumption."

E-cigarettes first appeared in the U.S. around 2007 with the promise of providing smokers with a less harmful alternative to smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes. The devices heat a nicotine solution in a vapor that's inhaled.

But there has been little rigorous study of whether e-cigarettes truly help smokers quit. And efforts by the FDA to begin vetting vaping products and their claims were repeatedly slowed by industry lobbying and competing political interests.

Print Headline: FDA authorizes first electronic cigarette


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