E-cigarettes should be regulated

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Electronic cigarettes, battery powered devices that heat liquid nicotine solution to create an inhalable vapor and allow users to “vape,” may lead the way to a drastic decrease in tobacco related deaths.

With no cancer-causing tar, e-cigs provide a safer alternative to cigarettes and assist smokers trying to quit. A 2014 survey shows that 20% of respondents were able to quit by using electronic cigarettes, whereas 10% of respondents were able to quit by using nicotine gums or patches.

I support that regulations for e-cigs should be passed, but classifying them as a tobacco product would be a mistake.

A 2013 federal study showed that about 263,000 children and young adults who never touched a cigarette before used an electronic cigarette. The number of users tripled from 2011, where about 79,000 people reported using an e-cig.

Until recently, the electronic cigarette industry encountered loose laws pertaining to the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors, health warnings, and approval of new products.

As a result, smokers face a hailstorm of news about mislabeling and shady counterfeits that emit deadly toxins and cancer-causing chemicals. An expected 300 million e-cigs are to be shipped to the United States and Europe from Chinese manufacturers.

Do you really want to smoke e-cigs from China, the most frequent culprits of the safety oversight? I didn’t think so.

A rapidly increasing product, this $2 billion industry avoided significant regulations until last year, when the Food and Drug Administration pushed for a new proposal that would classify e-cigs as a tobacco product.

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E-cigs lack the burning of tobacco leaves that regular cigarettes have. The classification of e-cigs as tobacco products could potentially inhibit the growth of this industry. And if the stunted growth of e-cigs persists, then fewer smokers will have access to the best tool for breaking their smoking habit.

Okay, I admit that that process is a slippery slope, but it could happen.

If the FDA’s regulations pass, the costs would be as high as $300,000. To a large e-cig company, $300,000 equals a few days profit. But to the smaller and independent companies, $300,000 would force them to shut down, eliminating approximately 450 companies from the market.

But asking for $300,000 to make e-cigs safer to smokers and their health is hardly asking for a lot. After all, tobacco companies want smokers to stay alive to reap in more revenue from their customers.

I don’t mean to sound callous, but that’s business.

Regulations should ensure that e-cigs be safely charged for regular use, banned for minors, and have an outline of standard manufacturing practices that promise safety to smokers.

While the FDA pushes to include e-cigs as tobacco products, New York has begun serious discussions on the matter. New York would impose the same bans and restrictions on e-cigs as they impose on regular cigarettes.

This may stifle the growth of e-cigs, but I seriously doubt it. Smokers who regularly use e-cigs either do so for fun or are trying to kick their smoking habit.

Regulations for electronic cigarettes are long overdue, and the longer the FDA waits to outline the safety procedures and standards for e-cigs, the more smokers are being exposited to inhaling deadly toxins.

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