The Battle to Ban E-cigs

Puff where no one else can!

For many e-cigarette opponents, the lack of scientific studies showing the device's relative safety or efficacy is a red flag. One of Vermont Vapors' customers, Nicole Fothergill, summed up the skepticism: "She was inhaling it like three puffs at a time. I don't know how much nicotine is in those three puffs, so it could be like three cigarettes or a half a cigarette, you don't really know."

All of the claims about e-cigs' safety come from manufacturers, and since the product isn't subject to FDA regulation and testing, its studies are limited to random samples and information provided by companies with a vested interest in keeping the product unregulated.

A July 2009 announcement from the FDA stated that their laboratory analysis of electronic cigarette samples found carcinogens and toxic chemicals such as diethylene glycol, an ingredient used in antifreeze. The analysis also showed that the concentration of nicotine delivered in each cigarette was inconsistent, despite how the packages were labeled.

And while organizations like the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, and the American Lung Association endorse the use of nicotine replacement products like the patch and nicotine gum to help smokers reduce or quit their habit, they strongly advocate for the banning of e-cigs.

E-cig manufacturers and users have responded to this perceived hypocrisy with a flood of press. Calling ALA lobbyists "joy-killing money grubbers" who "actually want to kill you," a blogger at Vapure News writes, the "ALA admitted that electronic cigarettes contain many fewer chemicals than tobacco cigarettes—namely the 4,000 and change that are created when you light up with combustion. Yet they refuse to publicly acknowledge the health benefits to smokers who switch from tobacco to electronic and effectively avoid these toxic chemicals altogether."

Some e-cig supporters suggest that the American Lung Association and American Cancer Society refuse to support e-cigs due to pressure from the tobacco industry, which helps fund their research. But the ALA says their refusal to ascribe health benefits to e-cigs is based on the lack of information about the their contents and the long-term effects of using the device.

The World Health Organization also refuses to endorse e-cigarettes, while accepting that they may prove to be a useful smoking cessation aid—once that claim can be supported by independent clinical studies. The acting director of WHO's anti-tobacco initiative wrote, "If the marketers of the electronic cigarette want to help smokers quit, then they need to conduct clinical studies and toxicity analyses and operate within the proper regulatory framework. Until they do that, WHO cannot consider the electronic cigarette to be an appropriate nicotine replacement therapy, and it certainly cannot accept false suggestions that it has approved and endorsed the product."

With such candy-like flavors as bubblegum and cookies and cream, many opponents also worry about how easy it is for children to get a hold of the products. Regardless of how many fewer chemicals e-cigs may have as compared to traditional cigarettes, nicotine is still a highly addictive drug. This has prompted the FDA to attempt to classify e-cigs as a "drug delivery device," a move that would give them control over e-cig regulation.

In the absence of laws forcing them to prove their claims—or to identify the ingredients in their e-liquid formulas—no manufacturers have yet taken on that responsibility or made their results public.



Ecig on a Green Background