E-cigarette use in the U.S. is increasing, particularly among young adults. As a result, last August the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began regulating all tobacco products,
including e-cigarettes, cigars, e-pipes, vaporizers, vape pens, hookah
pens and all other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).
There are conflicting opinions on
whether e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes, and the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use is
still unknown. However, safety concerns
are growing given the number of battery
explosions and fire claims occurring as a
result of e-cigarette use.
Some e-cigarette history
There are two primary categories of e-cig-
• Closed systems – which utilize pre-
filled cartridges. These are known as
ENDS or e-cigarettes.
• Open systems – which utilize a refillable tank the user manually fills with
solution. These allow users to inhale a
heated aerosol containing nicotine and
other substances; an activity commonly referred to as vaping. These systems
include e-hookahs, hookah pens, vape
pens, vaporizers, e-cigars and e-pipes.
E-cigarettes are now offered in hun-
dreds of brands in many shapes and
designs, and can be in a disposable or
rechargeable form. They are used to in-
hale a variety of products from nicotine
to marijuana. According to a December
2016 report from the U.S. Surgeon General, e-cigarette use by high school students
rose by 900% from 2011 to 2015, with
almost one in six high school students
using e-cigarettes in the previous 30 days.
Some teens use e-cigarettes for “
dripping,” where a user can manually apply a
few drops of liquid to the heating coil of
the cigarette, and change from one liquid
flavor to another. This produces a thicker
cloud and likely improves the taste sensation.
Another use of e-cigarettes involves
smoke tricks where users inhale the vapor or the aerosol, and then blow it out
of their mouth or nose to create varying
shapes and sizes. There are even vape
fests and competitions allowing people to
show off their skills.
U.S. regulation of e-cigarettes
In 2015, 99% of e-cigarettes sold in U.S.
convenience stores, supermarkets and
similar outlets contained nicotine.
In August 2016, the FDA began regulat-
ing all tobacco products, including e-cig-
arettes, cigars, e-pipes, vaporizers, vape
pens, hookah pens and all other ENDS.
The new rule regulates the following:
• Tobacco products may not be sold
to anyone under age 18, in person or
• A photo ID will be required to verify
• Free samples may not be distributed;
• Sales of tobacco products may not be
sold in vending machines unless they
are in an adult-only facility.
The FDA position is that as long as
e-cigarettes are not marketed as medical
devices or for therapeutic purposes, they
will be regulated as a tobacco product.
However, if they are marketed as a device
to help stop smoking, they must be regulated as drugs or medical devices and
must pass through the same regulatory
processes as other stop smoking aids such
as nicotine patches and nicotine gums.
Given the known and unknown dangers
associated with the use of e-cigarettes, vaping or dripping, the carriers who are willing to provide product liability coverage
are narrowing coverage with exclusions
and endorsements. Carriers are hesitant to
provide coverage for e-cigarettes because
the medical community does not yet have
enough data to prove their safety, and if
e-cigarettes are not the healthy product
advertised, they don’t want to be in the position of insuring tobacco manufacturers.
Despite the growing restrictions placed
on its use, tobacco continues to be a viable
product to the adult consumer. But the negative effects of the nicotine produced by the
burning of tobacco have been quite costly, as
evidenced by some recent litigation awards.
In 2013, the family of Laura Grossman
was awarded $37.5 million to be paid by
Up in Smoke