Chicago Journal of International Law

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The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) aims to protect present and future generations from the consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke. While the treaty has enjoyed widespread adherence, the rise in popularity of electronic cigarettes presents new questions about its scope. These relatively new products do not contain any tobacco and are thus not a major focus of the FCTC. This Comment examines provisions of the FCTC that may authorize its possible application to e-cigarettes and concludes that the treaty has the power to regulate them if scientific consensus suggests that such regulation would be “effective.”

The scientific community is divided on the issue of e-cigarette regulation. Scholars and policymakers have sometimes invoked the precautionary principle (essentially, a “better safe than sorry” philosophy) to justify international regulation in the face of scientific uncertainty. This Comment addresses the precautionary principle's lack of utility in the e-cigarette context and ultimately recommends against additional regulation under the FCTC. The current scholarship has not addressed the applicability of the FCTC to e-cigarettes, so this Comment sheds light on a potentially powerful international instrument for the regulation of a relatively new, popular, and possibly dangerous product.

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