Call a cigarette a fag in the United States and you'll raise eyebrows. Don't call it an e-fag either. E-fags, or electronic cigarettes, have been about for some time now but over in the States they have just won another battle against the Food and Drug Administration which means they may be regulated like your average workaday Marlboros.
The problem is that the FDA wants electronic cigarettes to be classified as drug delivering devices which would stamp restrictions on the industry. The US Court of Appeals has denied the FDA a chance to review a December decision that it didn't like, says the Wall Street Journal. It is now "considering its legal and regulatory options".
The FDA still thinks that the products fall into the same category as nicotine patches or sprays - they're medical devices to help people quit, so they need regulation from the agency. Judges in December ruled that unless they're marketed as devices to help smokers quit, they're no such thing. As it stands they are alternatives to twenty Benson that you can charge from your laptop on the cheap.
One of the sticking points with e-cigarettes is, unlike Nicorette inhalers, they emit smoke from a nicotine vapour. While often advertised as a legal way to have a cheeky bifta on the bus, in the dole office or 35,000 feet in the air they're often outright banned. Virgin Atlantic certainly doesn't like them. Smoking an electronic cigarette on the tube is likely to get you the evil eye from passengers or the British Transport Police - not because it's illegal but everyone hates a smug git.
Sottera, which flogs e-cigarettes and joined the suit, had a spokesperson say to the WSJ: "We are very pleased with the court's decision not to rehear the case. The fact that the full court unanimously declined the government's rehearing request underscores the force of the panel's original decision."