Food and Drug Administration (FDA), approves an e-cigarette for the first time for sale
It authorised the marketing of three products from RJ Reynolds, under the Vuse brand.
The FDA decided that the benefit to adults trying to quit smoking outweighs the risk of teenagers becoming hooked.
The permitted products are tobacco-flavoured, as opposed to the sweet flavours popular with younger people.
Manufacturers have been waiting more than a year for official authorisation, as the FDA examined the potential pros and cons for public health.
The FDA, which was given the power to regulate new tobacco products more than a decade ago, has been carrying out a study of e-cigarettes to decide which ones can continue to be sold.
A decision on the market leader, Juul, is still awaited.
in a study released last month by the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimated that more than two million school pupils had used e-cigarettes this year, with 80% using flavoured products.
Tuesday’s FDA ruling applies to the Vuse Solo ENDS e-cigarette and accompanying tobacco-flavoured pods.
Explaining the FDA’s reasoning, Mitch Zeller, its director for tobacco products said: “The manufacturer’s data demonstrates its tobacco-flavoured products could benefit addicted adult smokers who switch to these products – either completely or with a significant reduction in cigarette consumption – by reducing their exposure to harmful chemicals.”
He also warned that the authorisation could be withdrawn if there were signs of significant use of the product by people who did not previously use tobacco, including young people.