A controversy remains brewing over whether e-cigarettes should be regulated as a tobacco product or considered as a “drug delivery device.” Part of the argument is based on science and public health concerns, but much of the argument, as one might guess, actually revolves around money.
A court initially mandated that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulate e-cigarettes as a tobacco product rather than as a drug delivery device. The FDA and individual states are still grappling with how best to define these products, who should be allowed to buy them and how to tax them. At present the FDA and most states consider them the same as tobacco cigarettes.
Health advocates very strongly want them classified the same as regular cigarettes, but many e-cig users and all e-cig manufacturers want them classified as smoking cessation devices, i.e., non-tobacco products.
There are already 200 e-cigarette manufacturing companies in the U.S. Sales in the “vaping” industry are about $2B now, and projected to reach $10B annually within a few years. Traditional cigarettes are heavily taxed products (a surcharge of $2.00-$4.35 per pack is added, depending on the state), thus e-cigarette classification from that standpoint becomes a really hot potato politically.