Is It Fair to Regulate E-Cigarettes?

electronic cigarette smoking

Just by reading the title, it may seem to you that this article is biased -- and written to encourage the use of e-cigarettes. Well, it is not! I've written this article to discuss why this smokeless non-tobacco cigarette should be regulated like an usual cigarette.

I assume most of you have ample understanding about what an e-cigarette is and how it works. But I'm touching your knowledge base again, so that I could explain things in a better way.

E-cigarettes are an electronic -- battery-operated -- device that is intended to produce a sensation of smoking. They are smokeless and tobacco-free; don't deliver carbon monoxide or tars by burning tobacco leaves like usual cigarettes. Instead, they deliver smokers a hit of chemicals in vapor form. This vapor is a mixture of nicotine, propylene glycol, water, flavors, and other chemicals.

Over the past decade, e-cigarettes have rushed from a niche product to a booming market of nearly $2 billion a year. The manufacturers of e-cigarettes say or imply that they are far safer than conventional cigarettes and can be used as quit-smoking aids. Even many health experts agreed that they might be helpful for those who want to quit smoking. However, not enough scientific studies are done to evaluate the potential dangers of e-cigarettes, thus experts are still not sure what harm these might do to smokers.

As a result, there isn't any restriction on e- cigarettes from regulatory authorities as far, although FDA and EU recently proposed to regulate them. Yet, the makers can promote their products using catchy TV commercials as well as social media marketing. And, the users can use them in public places.

Many experts believe the use of e-cigarettes have been increased overtime among smokers due to no restriction of using them in places where tobacco smoking is banned or frowned upon. However, it is not evident that in public places, an e-cigarette smoker may not cause any harm to someone standing near him/her. But it has been suggested that the nonsmoker might have a strong possibility of getting a measurable nicotine level as well as formaldehyde and heavy metals ingestion. Last December, a study published in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health reported that e-cigarettes impaired indoor air quality and increased airway inflammation. Moreover, because of finding high concentrations of PM2.5 during vaping sessions, and substantial amounts of propylene glycol, glycerin, and nicotine in the gas-phase, the researchers urged that e-cigarettes and nicotine liquids should be authoritatively regulated and labeled with proper warnings. On the other hand, there is a growing fear among parents that their children will be more appealed to e-cigarettes -- and will eventually get addicted to nicotine, as they appear more safer than the conventional cigarettes. No doubt, this fear is obvious, because about 90 percent of smokers start smoking before age 16. Furthermore, as there is no regulatory restriction, e-cigarettes have less oversight than any other consumer products in the market. Shockingly, they are often manufactured and/or imported from countries that are reported to taint pharmaceutical and food products.
I don't know whether it is really fair to regulate e-cigarettes or not. But, I believe if a fractional chance of health risk could arise from them, then they must be officially regulated. Journal Reference Schober, W., Szendrei, K., Matzen, W., Osiander-Fuchs, H., Heitmann, D., Schettgen, T., Jörres, R., & Fromme, H. (2014). Use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) impairs indoor air quality and increases FeNO levels of e-cigarette consumers International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, 217 (6), 628-637 DOI: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2013.11.003 Image Sources: Electronic Cigarette Smoking | By Michael Dorausch, CC-BY-SA-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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