Nicotine Free E-Cigs Considered a Tobacco Product: Yes or No?

Lady-Justice-E-cigsMany politicians believe that electronic cigarettes are considered tobacco products due to the nicotine content within the cartomizers or e-liquids. That’s fair and all given that the nicotine is likely derived from tobacco, and the United States Food and Drug Administration defines a tobacco product “as any product made or derived from tobacco that is intended for human consumption.” But what if the nicotine was derived from tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, or cauliflowers? This may sound ridiculous because healthy foods cannot possibly contain the ‘harmful’ nicotine. Well believe it or not, there are fruits and vegetables that contain nicotine. Eggplants, for instance, contain one microgram of nicotine per ten grams. One microgram of nicotine is roughly the same amount one gets from three hours of exposure to second hand smoke. A cup of diced eggplants weighs 100 grams – that’s 10 micrograms of nicotine. Food for thought, eh? But fret not eggplant lovers because one would have to consume 22 pounds of the purple vegetable in order to get one milligram of nicotine which is the equivalent of one analog cigarette.

The process of deriving nicotine from fruits and vegetables would likely be a costly endeavor for electronic cigarette companies, but let’s say, hypothetically a company manages to do this and begins selling electronic cigarettes with nicotine derived from fruits and vegetables. The definition of a tobacco product set forth by the FDA and the laws that regulate tobacco would not apply to this veggie electronic cigarette. Imagine the frustration and confusion that would cause for our lawmakers.

Lawmakers are able to attack electronic cigarettes largely based upon the look and the ingredients inside these battery operated devices. Nicotine derived from tobacco is the key factor in categorizing electronic cigarettes as a tobacco product. And products associated with tobacco have a negative image of being dangerous to one’s health. But a product associated with fruits and vegetables? Now there’s a product with a positive image due to the well known fact that fruits and vegetables are healthy. What could lawmakers do against a veggie electronic cigarette? Would they begin regulating fruits and vegetable that have nicotine? That’s absurd, but I’m almost certain lawmakers will try to find some way.

Luckily for the government, a veggie electronic cigarette is a hypothetical situation. But there is good reason for bringing that situation up as I hope it inspires you to think deep about this: if an electronic cigarette contains zero nicotine, would that product still be considered a tobacco product? A nicotine-free electronic-cig cannot be considered a tobacco product because the definition of a tobacco product set forth by the FDA does not apply to the zero-nicotine product. Yet the zero product receives almost the same amount of scrutiny as a regular e-cig. The government is determined to regulate all electronic cigarettes as tobacco products. What is the basis for such scrutiny?

Electronic-cigarettes resemble analog cigarettes in too many ways. The vapor exhaled by a vaper resembles cigarette smoke and there is that mouth to hand sensation, a habit that many analog smokers have trouble overcoming despite kicking the nicotine habit. The government’s issue with electronic cigarettes is the look of it, not so much as the contents within it. And that’s absurd. We need to draw the line. A zero-nicotine e-cig is not a tobacco product because the FDA clearly defines what a tobacco product is. If lawmakers can regulate nicotine-free electronic cigarettes as regular electronic cigarettes, then what’s to stop them from regulating other products simply based upon the look of it?

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