Elicko Taieb –
Elicko Taieb is a serial entrepreneur who has developed startups related to electronic cigarettes and numerous other ventures. He founded one of the first e-cigarette companies in the United States known as Smoking Everywhere.
Taieb was involved in one of the most historic and influential court cases, which set a precedent regarding the regulation of e-cigarettes. The case Sottera Inc./Smoking Everywhere, Inc. v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration established precedent on how the FDA could regulate e-cigarette products.
It clarified that the FDA could only regulate e-cigarettes as a tobacco product unless it was specifically marketed as a cessation device.
Elicko Taieb and Sottera, Inc. District Court Case
Elicko Taieb filed a suit against the FDA along with a company called Sottera Inc. when the FDA attempted to ban imports of both companies’ e-cigarette products. The FDA justified the ban according to the idea that they were unapproved drug-device combination products that were designed to help treat nicotine withdrawal. Elicko Taieb’s company along with Sottera Inc.
The FDA was attempting to regulate the import of e-cigarettes for Taieb’s company along with Sottera Inc. under its authority under the FDCA (Food Drug and Cosmetic Act).
The lawsuit was initially filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs claimed that electronic cigarettes were not intended to treat nicotine withdrawal but instead were intended for the enjoyment of smoking, in the same way that conventional cigarettes are.
Sottera Inc. and Elicko Taieb’s victory in the U.S. District Court
On May 15, 2009, the court allowed Sottera Inc. and Taieb’s company to file a preliminary injunction which would prevent the FDA from blocking their e-cigarette import until the case was decided. The court granted the injunction on January 14, 2010.
Judge Richard Leon reasoned that Congress did not intend tobacco products to be “drugs” only because they delivered nicotine, otherwise traditional cigarettes could be categorized as a drug-device combination product. The court also ruled intended use of an e-cigarette could be to encourage nicotine use rather than prevent the use of nicotine.
Elicko Taieb’s Victory in the U.S. Court of Appeals
This decision was appealed by the FDA in the U.S. Court of Appeals; Taieb continued the case along with Sottera Inc. Once again, the court sided with Elicko Taieb and ruled that the FDA could only regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products, not drug-device combination products, and thus could not prevent their import.