The United States Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down a key part of a federal ban on battery chargers, arguing that they don’t have to comply with the law.
In a 5-4 ruling, the justices ruled that the FDA’s rule for the regulation of battery charger devices did not comply with federal law.
The justices also said the rule violated the Administrative Procedure Act, a federal law that governs the use of government resources.
“The agency’s rule, which regulates battery chargering devices, is not subject to the same standards of scrutiny as the FDA does,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in his majority opinion.
The FDA rule, called the “National Electronic Cigarette Product Safety Standards” or NECSS, is supposed to protect consumers from harmful effects of e-cigarettes.
The agency says that it regulates the devices to prevent and mitigate the harm they can cause by short-circuiting their vaping components, which can pose health risks to users.
The court ruled that in the case of a battery charger that has a device that can charge a battery in less than 5 seconds, the FDA could not require it to comply.
“Because the FDA is unable to identify a particular device’s specific safety profile or determine whether an e‐cigarette battery is hazardous, the agency must require that a charger comply with all applicable laws,” Kennedy wrote.
“If the FDA were to require all e-cig devices to conform to the NECPS standard, it would create a regulatory burden on the industry and its customers,” he added.
In the court’s opinion, Kennedy wrote that the federal agency had the authority to regulate battery chargings and that it could not.
“A regulation that imposes a requirement on a device to be a device capable of operating only when the device is on, or within a specific range of, the battery charger’s maximum output capacity would create an unreasonable burden on consumers,” Kennedy said.
“It is not clear that the NEDS standard is sufficiently tailored to address the regulatory issues presented by the proposed rule,” he wrote.
The ruling is the latest legal setback for the e-cigs industry, which has been fighting the FDA for months over the regulation.
The FDA proposed a rule that would ban the use and sale of e–cigarettes and other vapor products that emit toxic chemicals.
The NEDSS rule was intended to make e-liquid safer, but it is already in limbo.
The EPA says it has the authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act to regulate the sale and manufacture of e‐cigarettes.
Federal judges in the District of Columbia and Washington state have blocked the FDA rule from going into effect, saying it violates the Administrative Procedures Act.
The federal agency has until April 26 to file an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which is considered the highest court in the nation.