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CPSC May Get New Authority Over Liquid Nicotine Containers for E-Cigarettes

For all of you who know the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), you know that the agency distinctly does not have authority over tobacco or tobacco products. This arguably wasn’t always the case. Early on, the American Public Health Association petitioned the CPSC to regulate cigarettes containing more than 21 mg of tar. When the Commission voted not to take action, a district court ordered it to under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA), but Congress amended the law before the CPSC could take action. See Consumer Product Safety Commission Improvements Act, Pub. L. 94–284, 90 Stat. 503 (May 11, 1976); see also Food & Drug Administration v. Brown & Williamson Corp., 529 U.S. 120, 150–151 (2000) (discussing the petition, litigation, and statutory amendment). Tobacco and tobacco products have been explicitly excluded from CPSC jurisdiction since that 1976 law.

Much has changed since then. Tobacco products have recently evolved beyond traditional cigarettes and other tobacco-leaf–containing products to include “electronic” devices that aerosolize nicotine. Under the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (FSPTCA), Pub. L. 111–31, 123 Stat. 1,776 (June 22, 2009), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gained authority to regulate tobacco products, which are now defined to include any products that contain nicotine derived from tobacco. Nicotine-containing electronic cigarettes and the “e-liquids” used in them will come under FDA’s tobacco authority as soon as FDA finalizes its “Deeming Regulation.”

The limitation on CPSC’s jurisdiction on products in the “nicotine family” also appears set to be loosened – albeit only slightly – as Congress just passed the Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act (S. 142), which is currently awaiting the President’s signature. The law would impose packaging restrictions on certain liquid nicotine products similar to those already required under the Poison Prevention Packaging Act (PPPA), Pub. L. 91–601, 84 Stat. 1,670 (Dec. 30, 1970). 

© 2017 Keller and Heckman LLP


About this Author

Sheila Millar, Keller Heckman, advertising lawyer, privacy attorney

Sheila A. Millar counsels corporate and association clients on advertising, privacy, product safety, and other public policy and regulatory compliance issues.

Ms. Millar advises clients on an array of advertising and marketing issues.  She represents clients in legislative, rulemaking and self-regulatory actions, advises on claims, and assists in developing and evaluating substantiation for claims. She also has extensive experience in privacy, data security and cybersecurity matters.  She helps clients develop website and app privacy policies,...

Azim Chowdhury, Keller Heckman, ECigarette Research lawyer, FDA Regulatory Compliance Attorney

Azim Chowdhury joined Keller and Heckman in 2010 and practices in the area of food, drug and tobacco law. 

Mr. Chowdhury advises domestic and foreign corporations in matters of FDA and international regulatory compliance. In particular, he assists corporations in establishing clearances for food and drug additives in the U.S., Canada, and European Union, with an emphasis on indirect additives used in food-contact materials.  Mr. Chowdhury has also developed expertise in tobacco and e-vapor product regulation relating to the implementation of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, and spearheaded the FDA Tobacco and Electronic Cigarette practice at Keller and Heckman.  Specifically, Mr. Chowdhury has experience representing tobacco, e-cigarette and e-liquid manufacturers, suppliers and trade associations in matters of FDA regulatory and corporate compliance.

Nathan Cardon, Keller Heckman, product safety attorney, labor lawyer, consumer protection law, cybersecurity matters

Nathan Cardon joined Keller and Heckman in 2013.  Mr. Cardon practices in the areas of product safety, privacy, and advertising.

In his product safety practice, Mr. Cardon counsels clients on risk management and product safety strategies, as well as on compliance with Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) requirements, including new requirements under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA). 

In the privacy and advertising practice, Mr. Cardon is involved in a wide variety of privacy, data...