The U.S. Food and Drug Administration lacks the authority to regulate electronic cigarettes as drugs or devices, an appeals court ruled, upholding a lower-court decision. The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington said today the FDA can only regulate e-cigarettes as a tobacco product. The ruling means the government can oversee the marketing of the products, not restrict their sale.

The e-cigarette consists of a battery, a heating element and a cartridge that contains a liquid suspension with nicotine. When a user inhales from the cartridge, the liquid is heated and a vapor is emitted. The nicotine is obtained from tobacco plants.

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