It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Electronic cigarettes were intended to be a healthier alternative to real cigarettes and there was even hope that they could be used as a tool to help people quit smoking.
However, despite evidence that e cigarettes are, in fact, safer than the smoke that is inhaled when a person inhales a tobacco filled product, this hasn’t stopped lawmakers from doing their best to regulate and in some instances ban them altogether.
Now, a group of Congressional Democrats are jumping on the anti-vaping bandwagon. The legislators claim that e-cigarette makers are intentionally marketing their products to children by using flavors that may appeal to kids and celebrities in their advertisements.
So now, Democrats want the e-cigarettes regulated in the same manner as traditional cigarettes. This would also mean that they would have to follow strict advertising guidelines.
Interestingly, the companies that produce e-cigarettes, agree with many of the congressional Democrats' recommendations.
“We agree with a number of the report’s recommendations,” said David Sylvia speaking for the company that produces the MarkTen e-cigarette brand, “including the FDA asserting regulatory authority over these products and all other tobacco products not yet regulated by the agency.”
He also agrees that there should be age restrictions on e-cigarettes, which he claims is a shared view throughout the industry.
The contentious issue that this new proposal throws into the mix involves flavored e-cigarettes.
In 2009, the FDA banned cigarettes with “characterizing fruit, candy, and clove flavors,” due to concerns that the flavors would raise the appeal of cigarettes to children. Congressional Democrats want to apply the same ban to e-cigarettes.
Flavors of e-cigarettes are a significant selling point for the vaping business and industry insiders may oppose measures that would regulate the flavors.
“Electronic cigarettes and vaporizing products are not for children,” wrote Phil Daman, president of the Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association. “They should be available to consumers of legal age.”
“Flavors are very common, and increasingly popular, in many adult product categories, including coffee, liqueurs, and other forms of beverage alcohol,” he said.
E-cigarettes do contain nicotine which is addictive. However, the lack of smoke and the absence of chemicals that are contained in real cigarettes smoke are unlikely to lead to the same health problems that many smokers face.
The question is whether the decreased health risks are enough to make the alternative satisfactory to regulation-happy lawmakers.