- The FDA, which released its much-awaited proposed “deeming regulations” last spring, is advancing a prescription that will surely cripple the future of electronic cigarettes and, with it, the health of millions of smokers.
- Although non-experts often erroneously attribute the risk of smoking to nicotine rather than combusted tobacco, the health effects of nicotine are generally benign.
- Congress and state and local governments should adopt bans on sales to minors (already in place in many states) and nicotine warning requirements. But the FDA’s proposed regulation should not go forward in its current form.
The FDA's proposed regulation should not go forward in its current form, or it will undermine efforts to persuade smokers to switch to e-cigarettes and will endanger public health.
Recently, the New York Times ran several high-profile essays justifying the liberalization of marijuana laws. Editorialists addressed the health effects, the need for product standards, and the importance of banning sales to minors. Another major recommendation was to keep marijuana production and marketing from becoming corporatized as "Big Pot."
Agree or disagree with marijuana legalization, it's refreshing to see sober efforts to balance freedom to use marijuana, an intoxicant, against the harms that can result from expanded legal access to it. We only wish that such consideration was being extended to electronic cigarettes: a nicotine delivery device that has the potential to change the face of smoking and help alleviate one of the nation's biggest public health problems. Instead, the FDA is considering a regulation that would block e-cigarettes from fulfilling that potential.
Electronic cigarettes and their relatives (called "vaping pens" or "mods") are battery-powered devices that heat liquid nicotine and emit mostly water vapor. Because no tobacco is combusted, no carcinogenic tar is inhaled or released into the shared environment. That makes e-cigarettes far safer than traditional cigarettes.