Reason magazine has decided that there's a lunatic war going on over e-cigarettes. On October 23rd, Jacob and the NY Post published an article titled, "Lunatic War On E-Cigarettes." In the article he asserts that people against e-cigarettes are seeing the issue "through a fog of prejudice."
READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE: http://nypost.com/2013/10/23/the-lunatic-war-on-e-cigarettes/
The article goes on to talk about the current proposed regulations of e-cigarettes by the FDA and how they are looking to treat it as a tobacco product.
Sullum takes issue with this and is concerned that it will restrict information and access to these products which in turn will hinder cigarette smokers from making the switch over to e-cigarettes and consequently raising smoking related illness and death. He then goes on to point out the significant difference between cigarette smoke and "vapor" and that the e-cigarette clinically and evidently has less carcinogenic material. Technically, the e-cigarette is the lesser of two evils and Jacob Sullum makes a strong case for that.
Moving forward Sullum talks about the more zealous of the anti-e-cigarette movement quoting Maria Azzarelli of the Southern Nevada Health District as saying “We’re very concerned that what [was] becoming passé — smoking — is now coming back.”
In the opinion of this smoker, who doesn't smoke anymore (or vape), this is straight up stupid. Smoking is, was and forever will be sexy to some and disgusting to others. Vaping will not have anything to do with whether or not people choose to smoke a dried up leaf rolled in paper and cotton. E-cigarettes as a gateway drug, while plausible, is ultimately ludicrous. Bottom line on that deal is you either succumb to an addiction to nicotine or you do not. The reality of the e-cigarette is now consumers have one additional option to get their nicotine fix. And this new option is all wrapped up in a nice little "healthy alternative to smoking" package.
Sullum wraps it all by saying, "It’s in the shift from the former category to the latter that the disease-reducing potential of e-cigarettes lies. Impeding that transition by imposing arbitrary restrictions on e-cigarette advertising, sales and flavors would be a literally fatal error."
Here's where I disagree. There is a lot of hype and fear mongering about the ambiguity of the long term effects of vaping. Yes, clearly, based on cited ingredients the e-cigarette is safer compared to a traditional cigarette.
With that in mind, e-cigarettes also contain more than just nicotine, flavoring and propolyne glycol. A recent study showed e-cigarettes had 10 different chemicals included on the California Prop 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer. The question is; is the amount of those chemicals in the e-cigarette, enough to cause any real harm over time? If used responsibly, can the e-cigarette be used to reduce traditional smoking and aid in cessation? Possible. People have used the patch and the gum to stop smoking. In a real world study, people showed a 9.2% success rate with the patch, 8.4% with the gum. Cold Turkey's at 11% buy the way... [insert shameless plug for my book here] What that means though is the other 90.8% and 91.6% respectively, went back to smoking after 6 months. Also, the people in that study were on their 5th attempt.
Now, back to the e-cigerette, because here in lies the rub...
Who's making them e-cigarettes anyway? Who just happens to be buying up e-cigarette companies left and right? Who's also been know to chemically enhance the addictive properties of their product? Who's in the nicotine delivery business? Big Tobacco that's who? They have, over the last 80+ years exhibited seriously questionable ethics or morals with their tobacco products. And that's putting it lightly. So if Big Tobacco is hedging their bets and looking to get a piece of the vaping pie, then I want the FDA, CDC, HHS, FTC, ATF and any other Government agency with initials to be keeping a strong eye on what is happening in that industry. Big Tobacco is moving in on e-cigarettes and that should raise a MASSIVE red flag for anyone actually interested in getting off nicotine.
BOTTOM LINE: Regular old school James Dean cool cigarette or new bitchen Stephen Dorff blu e-cigarette, it's still a delivery device for nicotine being sold to consumers by a group who clearly can't be trusted. Ever. People have every right to commit passive aggressive suicide by smoking tobacco on a regular basis and they have every right to self-medicate with nicotine as long as they're not hurting others in the process. (i.e. Wanna get drunk and drink your life away? OK. DUI? Not OK.) Should the FDA regulate the crap out of them? Absolutely. Because, if Big Tobacco's involved, it will only be a matter of time before something fishy's going on.
While nicotine is (and should be) legal, it is still a drug. It's addictive properties are as strong as heroin and it is lethal around 60mg. The idea of weening off a drug has merit, however, it fails significantly more often than it succeeds. Any company in the nicotine delivery business, can't afford to have you succeed in getting off nicotine and therefor should be watched closely. Will the regulations restrict the information going out or just make sure it's real and accurate? If you haven't seen cigarette marketing from the 40's and 50's go do a little research (or poke around this blog) and you'll see what I'm talking about. Regulate? If need be to keep these people in check, absolutely.
To answer Sullum's concern about the regulation of e-cigarettes causing unnecessary loss of life... who's the real lunatic anyway?