iPhone, iPad, iCigs… Really?

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By: Shannon Lawson, Staff Member

At a time when almost everything can be purchased in an electronic form, should we really be surprised that there is such a thing as electronic cigarettes? Or should I say, e-cigs? For those who don’t know, electronic cigarettes are battery-powered devices that contain cartridges of liquid nicotine, which heats and vaporizes into the lungs as the smoker inhales.[1] However, unlike traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes are tobacco free, which makes them difficult for the FDA to regulate.[2] Since they are tobacco free, many of the FDA regulations on tobacco products do not apply.[3] For instance, commercials for electronic cigarettes are not regulated to the degree of traditional cigarettes.[4]

Since the U.S. government decided to abandon graphic warning labels on cigarette packages,[5] the regulation of electronic cigarettes is likely to be the FDA’s next big smoking related issue. Although the FDA has the authority to regulate electronic cigarettes if they are marketed as tobacco cessation aids,[6] healthcare professionals are concerned about the side effects of directly inhaling nicotine.[7] These professionals along with the FDA, are worried electronic cigarettes might “perpetuate the use of nicotine and tobacco products among smokers who might otherwise quit.”[8]

There are also questions on the second hand effects of electronic cigarettes. We have all heard of second-hand smoke, but what about second-hand vapor? While it might seem as though second-hand vapor might not be a problem, we should be aware that not all the micro particles found in the vapor are completely taken in by the smoker.[9] At this point, there is not enough evidence available to say that second-hand vapor is a health hazard.[10]

At any rate, it would probably be best to regulate the sale of e-cigarettes as vigorously as we regulate tobacco products, whether at the federal or state level, until we are well aware of the side effects.
[1] See Electronic Cigarettes: How They Are – and Could Be – Regulated, Change Lab Solutions, http://changelabsolutions.org/sites/default/files/E-cigarette_FactSht_FINAL_%28CLS_20120530%29_October21_2011_0.pdf.
[2] Id.
[3] Id.
[4] See Mary Katherine Ham, Panic: Ads for e-cigs not banned by tobacco regulations…because they’re not made of tobacco, Hot Air, (June 12, 2013), http://hotair.com/archives/2013/06/12/panic-ads-for-e-cigs-not-banned-by-tobacco-regulations-because-theyre-not-made-of-tobacco/ (last visited June 13, 2013).
[5] See Michael Felberbaum, AP Newsbreak: US to Revise Cigarette Warning LablesAPNEWSBREAK:, The Big Story, (March 19, 2013), http://bigstory.ap.org/article/apnewsbreak-us-revise-cigarette-warning-labels.
[6] See Electronic Cigarettes at 1.
[7] See Susan Cassidy, 10 Little-known Facts About E-cigarettes, Discovery Fit & Health http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/smoking-cessation/10-facts-about-e-cigarettes2.htm (last visited June 13, 2013).
[8] Mathew L. Meyers, New Study Finds Increased Use of Electronic Cigarettes, Shows Need for FDA Regulation, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, (Feb. 23, 2013), http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/press_releases/post/2013_02_28_ecig
[9] E-Cigs And The Myth Of Second-Hand Vapor, Free ECigarettes Samples (May 1, 2013) http://freeecigarettesamples.com/e-cigs-and-the-myth-of-second-hand-vapor (last visited June 13, 2013).
[10] Id.