It goes without saying that e-cigs are relatively new products in the market and thus their use is not regulated as much as it probably should. However, if the current trend is anything to go by, this will not be the case a few years from now because lawmakers are gradually creating pieces of laws to regulate the use of these devices, which is usually known as ‘vaping’.
Senator Dick Durbin and Henry Waxman, who is a representative, worked together with nine other lawmakers to come up with a report titled “Gateway to Addiction?”. In this report, the lawmakers showed how most of the electronic cigarette companies were targeting young people by sponsoring music concerts, giving away free samples and such like strategies. Their flavours were also sweet to attract the youth.
The lawmakers have made a request to the Food and Drug Administration to make a move against these tactics. Many people are in favour of this campaign. According to Robert McCartney who is with the Washington Post, people should be allowed to vape, but the companies that make electronic cigarettes should not be allowed to make massive profits by manipulating people and interfering with public health. According to him, proper regulation is critical in ensuring that the next generation does not end up with many nicotine addicts like it was before the smoking of cigarettes was well regulated.
At present, very few side effects of the e-liquid ingredients have been proven scientifically. However, there is evidence showing the negative effect that nicotine brings to a person’s immune system. While flavours appear harmless, propylene glycol, which is the third ingredient is commonly used in products like soaps, soft drinks, salad dressing and shampoos without any big problems. Basically this means that it’s safe for ingestion and even for use on the human skin. Nonetheless, the effects of inhaling it have not been analysed adequately. There are concerns that the vapour inhaled from electronic cigarettes could be contaminated by carcinogens coming from the ingredients of the e-liquid or the metal parts of the device.
Despite this, there are some people who still think that electronic cigarettes have more benefits than side effects. One of these people is Cameron English who is from PolicyMic. Cameron believes that these devices are good because they have helped many people quit smoking. According to him, the decreasing trend when it comes to cigarette consumption is the number one direct benefit of these devices. He believes that this decreasing trend can be linked to the increase in popularity of electronic cigarettes.
The only risk that has so far been confirmed to be associated with the use of electronic cigarettes is the risk of sustaining injuries from exploding devices. In one instance, a barmaid was hurt by shrapnel that came from an electronic cigarette that exploded while being charged.
According to editors from USA Today, the FDA should try and treat electronic cigarettes in the same way they treat the traditional tobacco cigarettes. This is at least until it’s clear that the devices pose a serious risk to the user’s health. Of course, this should include prohibition of the sale to minors, the use of the devices indoors, in public spaces and any other necessary regulations.
Jacob Sullum on the other hand speaks on Forbes and criticises the report by Durbin and Waxman saying that it’s too simplistic. This is particularly referring to the part saying that the companies that make these devices target young people in their marketing strategies. According to him, the same reasoning would make sweetened alcoholic beverages, flavoured cigars and chocolate bars with cannabis serious threats to youth. This is because they could also sound appealing to the young people.
Should the FDA decide to go ahead and effect the proposed ban on electronic cigarettes, users should expect a substantially low number of options when it comes to the number of available flavours. As a result, fewer people will find it appealing to make the switch. It will also limit the advertising of electronic cigarettes and as a result fewer people will know that they have an alternative to tobacco cigarettes.
The question as to whether or not electronic cigarettes should or should not be allowed is never really going to end without scientific evidence supporting or against the use of the devices. Without this, it will only be a heated argument that will do very little towards solving the problem.