Legal Definition: Nicotine Is a Drug and Cigarettes a Drug-Delivery Mechanism According to Independent Analysis

Analysis of whether tobacco meets the legal definition of a drug

In August 1995, the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), proposed a rule to give it the power to regulate certain tobacco products containing nicotine on the basis that they meet the legal definition of drugs under the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

From 1995 to 1997, researchers at St. Peter's Medical Center, New Brunswick, N.J., collected, organized. and analyzed information concerning the legal definition of tobacco products as drugs.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) national program Tobacco Policy Research and Evaluation Program.

Key Findings:

  • Researchers concluded that nicotine is a drug and that cigarettes qualify as drug-delivery devices under the definition of current food and drug laws.
  • The analysis states that the data are strong enough to justify banning all tobacco advertising under current law.

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