As a child I was always surrounded by cigarettes. Both of my parents smoked my mother smoked even while she was pregnant with me. Personally I began smoking when I was eleven years old. I tried many times to quit only to have each attempt end in failure, until I discovered Electronic Cigarettes. I am not alone; many others tell stories similar to mine (CASAA). Unfortunately The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A) wish to impose strict regulation on the sale of Electronic cigarettes, making it harder for those like me who wish to quit smoking (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) to access just such a reduced harm alternative.
Many of our representatives including Rep. Nita Lowey (D – N.Y.) make bold statements such as, “Many of these products are aimed at children, including a substantial number of the 7,000 flavors of e-cigarettes … bubble gum, gummy bears, Swedish fish” (Shabad). I assert that this is a scare tactic. How many other adult only products have such flavors that children might enjoy as well? For example, Smirnoff®, a brand of vodka owned and produced by the British company Diageo, lists thirty two flavors on its website. Many of these flavors would undoubtedly appeal to children such as, Smirnoff Blueberry®, Smirnoff Grape®, Smirnoff Kissed Caramel®, and Smirnoff Whipped Cream® (SMIRNOFF® U.S.). Would any one argue that these vodka products are being marketed to children?
There is currently a lot of fear about electronic cigarettes. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health, says electronic cigarettes are, “a community health threat” (Chapman). I assert that this claim is false. A Report published by Public Health England, stated that, “e-cigarettes are 95% safer than smoking” and that “The public health opportunities” of electronic cigarettes should be maximized. (Public Health England, E-cigarettes: an evidence update). According to a follow up note by the authors on the report; This was based on the facts that,
“The constituents of cigarette smoke that harm health – including carcinogens – are either absent in e-cigarette vapor or, if present, they are mostly at levels much below 5% of smoking doses (Mostly below 1% and far below safety limits for occupational exposure)” and “the main chemicals present in e-cigarettes only have not been associated with any serious risk” (Public Health England, Authors’ note on evidence for ‘around 95%’ safer estimate).
Mr. Chapman also asserted that “there is no scientific evidence that e-cigarettes help smokers successfully quit traditional cigarettes” (Chapman). Yet a survey done in 2011 was able to show that out of 3,587 participants 96% of them said that use of e-cigarettes helped them to quit smoking (Etter and Bullen, Electronic cigarette: users profile, utilization, satisfaction and perceived efficacy). Still another study of electronic cigarette users, concluded that electronic cigarettes may help with preventing the relapses of former smokers and may even help current smokers to quit cigarettes (Etter and Bullen, A longitudinal study of electronic cigarette users).
The Tri-County Cessation Center lists over 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke stating that, “at least 69 of those chemicals are known to cause cancer” (Tri-County Cessation Center). By contrast a study published in October of 2013 found that the results of testing 20 e-liquids, used to produce the vapor in an electronic cigarettes, revealed that the majority of the vapor samples were found to have no adverse effects on cardiac cells. Even on the several that did have some effect (two of which were tobacco derived) the worst was three times less toxic compared to cigarette smoke. (Farsalinos, Romagna and Allifranchini). Obviously more research is needed on electronic cigarettes; however, what research has been done thus far would speak to the electronic cigarette as being far less dangerous than traditional cigarettes which have been attributed to as many as nearly six million deaths per year (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
The current proposal by the F.D.A. for sales of electronic cigarettes seeks to have products not on the Market prior to February 15, 2007 subjected to a premarket review (U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Deeming Tobacco Products To Be Subject to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, as Amended by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act; Regulations on the Sale and Distribution of Tobacco Products and Required Warning Statements for Tobac). The Bulk of the current electronic cigarette market was not in place at that time, also the amount of paperwork that would be required for these companies is overwhelming and would insure that only the largest companies are able to comply. This would effectively close most small electronic cigarette businesses. While a good portion of electronic cigarette users would like to see better labels as well as laws against selling to minors, which the current proposal does attempt to address, the paperwork that would be required by the smaller companies is going to effectively leave the bulk of electronic cigarette sales in the hands of large corporations such as the current tobacco companies.
While the F.D.A. should regulate the electronic cigarette market in order to protect consumers from bad manufacturing practices as well as protecting minors; I believe it behooves them to seek out ways to work within the current market. Removing most of the current products would only leave former smokers, whom have only found success in quitting thanks to electronic cigarettes, with the only alternative of returning to smoking. The fees and paperwork asked for by the F.D.A. would be a huge burden on smaller manufacturers. The F.D.A should revise the paperwork requirement allow more time for completion of said paperwork and assess the fees for said paperwork based on company size. This alone would help speed the current process along, while allowing for regulation of the market. This would also prevent small businesses from closing and prevent those employed by the small businesses from losing their jobs.
I do agree that manufacturers should be required to clearly label their bottles of e-liquid. Not only do the users of electronic cigarettes want to be sure of what exactly is in the liquid they are using, but this would also help with the regulation of those products. The bottles of liquid should also be required to have child proof lids on them so that both children and pets cannot easily access the liquid.
If the F.D.A. is truly concerned with the health and safety of U.S. citizens they should be willing to look at the reduced harm afforded by the use of electronic cigarettes. Simply removing them or making them difficult to require would only cause users to return to the more deadly alternative of traditional cigarettes, or even worse removing the option all together from those who currently do smoke and have not yet had a chance to try using electronic cigarettes. Both manufactures and the F.D.A. should be willing to work together to find a common ground in which to reduce the harm caused by tobacco. Together they can make a difference.