Scottsdale-Based E-Cigarette Company Gets Big Win in Federal Court

A Scottsdale company that distributes "e-cigarettes," the robotic and arguably equally harmful alternative to traditional cigarettes, got some good news today from a federal judge: The Food and Drug Administration has to back off in blocking imports of the devices.

The judge ruled in favor of Sottera, the distributor of the NJOY "e-cigarette," saying the FDA must not try to regulate the devices more stringently than it does ordinary tobacco products -- because the "e-cigarettes" are basically just a modern-day tobacco product.

The hoopla began when the FDA tried to over-regulate the devices, claiming they were a "drug-device combination," not a tobacco product. Because of the distinction, the FDA was confiscating the devices when they came into U.S. ports from foreign manufacturers for more than a year.

In response to the seizures, Sottera and Florida-based company Smoking Everywhere sued the FDA and won.

"This case appears to be yet another example of FDA's aggressive efforts to regulate recreational tobacco products as drugs or devices," Judge Richard Leon wrote in his ruling. "Unfortunately, its tenacious drive to maximize its regulatory power has resulted in its advocacy of an interpretation of the relevant law that I find, at first blush, to be unreasonable and unacceptable."

This is the latest battle in the war between "e-cigarette" companies and the FDA.

In July, the FDA released a report claiming that "e-cigarettes" are just as bad for people as traditional cigarettes, even though robo-cig companies were claiming the contrary.

NJOY maintained that it was conducting its own experiments to contradict the FDA's claim. We're yet to see the report, but we're waiting with bated coughs.

UPDATE: The NJOY study is out -- it was published last night. You can check it out here.