Supreme Court takes up e-cigarette case

The nation’s highest court is expected to rule on the case in the fall.

The Supreme Court has taken a case on e-cigarettes, regarding a decision from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to block the marketing of sweet flavored products. 

The FDA is appealing a lower court ruling that favored vape companies who claim the FDA unjustly rejected over a million applications to market fruit or candy flavored e-liquids, which are heated by e-cigarettes to create an inhalable aerosol.


The big picture: The FDA has been conducting a comprehensive review of the vaping market following regulatory delays, with a specific focus on flavored e-cigarettes. The agency recently approved its first menthol-flavored electronic cigarettes for adult smokers.

  • The FDA argues that sweet flavored e-liquids pose a significant risk of attracting more young individuals to begin using nicotine products. 
  • Court documents from the agency highlight the prevalence of flavored e-cigarettes among high school and middle school students, with nearly 20% of high school and almost 5% of middle-school students using these products in 2020.
  • Vape companies, on the other hand, maintain that they had detailed plans to prevent young people from accessing their products and have criticized the FDA for requiring them to demonstrate the benefits of flavored products for smoking cessation without prior notification.

What we’re watching: The Supreme Court will hear the case in the fall, with differing opinions from various appeals courts regarding FDA regulations on tobacco products to curb youth tobacco use.

State of play: Youth vaping rates have declined, but a significant number of students still use e-cigarettes. Vaping companies argue that their products can help reduce smoking-related deaths, which currently amount to 480,000 annually in the U.S.

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