ECigarettes have become a popular way for smokers to kick their tobacco habit. Vapor produced by the devices is a fulfilling substitute for harmful chemicals in traditional cigarettes. Smokers not only have control over their nicotine doses, they can choose from an ever expanding variety of flavors. With the device to the forefront of the smoking market, thriving start-ups who have found a niche among this booming market fear heavy handed regulations by the US government could dampen or even destroy their ability to grow a customer base. ECigarette businesses face an uphill battle against the combined forces of big government, the pharmaceutical industry and the tobacco industry.
Big tobacco supports any obstacles that prevent or curtail products marketed at smokers who desire to stop smoking even though many large tobacco companies have started to market their own e-cigarette devices. Seeing a huge risk to traditional cigarette profits, some tobacco companies have also rolled out their own versions of e-cigs, but loss of their traditional smoking market would be fatal for them. The powerful pharmaceutical industry, which profits from smokers who quit with an array of patches and gums, also wants to restrict e-cigarettes from rising in popularity. Federal oversight is the surest way these forces can sway the market for the popular devices. Regulations considered would restrict everything from ECigarette advertising to using one in public. Already two US cities, Chicago and New York, extended bans on public smoking to include the device which, ironically, emits no smoke.
Concerns raised by critics of e-cigarettes often sound like twisted leaps of logic. One argument claims opposition to the device is warranted because they may act as a kind of gateway drug leading quitting smokers back to tobacco. It is a difficult argument to grasp. ECigarette companies such as V2Cigs, which began as a tiny operation, say their products lead customers away from, not towards, a life chained to big tobacco. These companies believe a choice between nicotine vapors of the electronic cigarette versus the long list of carcinogens found in tobacco is a no-brainer for smokers. Joel Nitzkin, public-health physician and senior fellow at the Washington DC think tank R Street, is quoted as stating ECigarettes “could potentially reduce smoking deaths by more than 90 percent.”
The Journal of Public Health Policy believes “a preponderance of the available evidence shows [e-cigarettes] to be much safer than tobacco cigarettes and comparable in toxicity to conventional nicotine replacement products.” It also said there’s “reason to believe that they offer an advantage over traditional nicotine delivery devices.”
There is good news for e-cigarette manufacturers facing government regulations. Europe rejected regulating the devices as medical instruments and the FDA is expected to do the same in the US.
Will the federal government allow small business to flourish in this case? Should the government hinder or facilitate this healthy alternative? Many say let the market grow unrestricted. If the trend continues to rise, we could see a free market cure to the deadly habit of tobacco smoking.