Nicopure Labs, LLC v. Food and Drug Administration

A manufacturer of e-cigarette devices and liquids challenged a federal regulation that deemed e-cigarettes to be “tobacco products.” This rule subjects e-cigarettes to the same federal laws as traditional cigarettes under the Tobacco Control Act (TCA). The manufacturer argued that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which issued the regulations, did not have the authority to regulate empty e-cigarettes or nicotine free e-liquids, because they were not made or derived from tobacco. The company also argued that the TCA’s ban on distributing free samples and pre-approval for modified risk statements was arbitrary and violated their First Amendment rights.

In this decision, the District Court upheld the FDA’s rule. The TCA gives the FDA the power to regulate “components” of tobacco products. The court found empty e-cigarettes and nicotine-free e-liquids are “components” of a tobacco product because together they make up an electronic nicotine delivery system. Further, the court found that the rule did not violate the manufacturers’ First Amendment rights because the ban on free samples was regulating conduct, not speech. The court also held that pre-approval for modified risk statements did not violate the First Amendment because it does not ban modified risk statements, it only requires the claims be substantiated. Finally, the court found because of the public health risks associated with nicotine and increasing rates of e-cigarette use in adolescents and adults, the decision to subject e-cigarettes to the TCA was not arbitrary.

In an amicus brief, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and other public health groups argued that such premarket review is a powerful tool for FDA to understand what is on the market and to evaluate whether any of these products should be allowed to continue to be marketed, given their adverse impact on public health, particularly those that appeal to kids because of their fruit and candy flavors (see "Related Documents").


Nicopure Labs, LLC v. Food and Drug Administration, 266 F.Supp.3d 360, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (2017).

  • United States
  • Jul 21, 2017
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia



  • American Vaping Association
  • Electronic Vaping Coalition of America
  • Georgia Smoke Free Association
  • Kentucky Vaping Retailers Association, Inc.
  • Louisiana Vaping Association
  • Maryland Vaping Professionals, LLC
  • New Jersey Retailers Coalition
  • Nicopure Labs, LLC
  • Ohio Vapor Association
  • Right to be Smoke Free Coalition
  • Tennessee Smoke Free Association


  • Commissioner of Food and Drugs Scott Gottlieb
  • Food and Drug Administration
  • Secretary of Health and Human Services Thomas E. Price

Legislation Cited

Related Documents

Type of Litigation

Tobacco Control Topics

Substantive Issues

Type of Tobacco Product