Electronic cigarettes

Technology marches on.

The article in Slate is called Vapor War; Our irrational hostility toward electronic cigarettes by William Saletan.

The e-cigarette has no tobacco and delivers assorted flavors and optional doses of nicotine in a vapor.  No smoke.  No odor.

The question is:  should this product be regulated.

Saletan makes the case that it took decades of evidence to convince us to regulate cigarettes; that nearly all of the things that make smoking dangerous are missing in e-cigarettes; and, citing a 2007 study that found “that respiratory symptoms like cough, phlegm, and tightness in the chest increase with cigarette use and cannabis use, but are less severe among users of a vaporizer. … The odds ratio suggests that vaporizer users are only 40% as likely to report respiratory symptoms as users who do not vaporize.”

He concludes that “The engineering and re-engineering of drugs will only get more complicated as technology improves. We’d better start thinking rationally about it.”

And he’s right.  We should be thinking rationally about it.  The facts are that nicotine and THC are drugs and that the e-cigarette is a drug delivery system.   To allow either of these products to be sold without establishing whether they are safe or not and without appropriate regulation does not strike me as rational.  The one study in front of us says it is only 40% as dangerous to the respiratory system as cigarettes.  Sounds plenty unsafe to me.

In hindsight, did we go about cigarette regulation the correct way?  Wait until there are plenty of people making millions of dollars off millions of addicts who also vote?

5 thoughts on “Electronic cigarettes”

  1. So, what happened during the Prohibition Era? Any chance history will repeat itself? Any chance the additional regulation of tobacco by the FDA will spark more than we may be looking for in terms of actions/reactions?

    I heard on the news the other day that Phillips-Morris is supporting the bill that is to be signed regarding tobacco regulation and the rest of the industry is not. Why? PM apparently has 50+% market share and is diversified enough to weather the initial storm. The others are not. Therefore, PM is looking at this regulation as a way to eliminate competition. Anyone really take a look at this before we started down that road?

    The above was reported by someone in the know in D.C. The next question is, who IS in the know in D.C.?

    Did the drug czar really call of the war on drugs? If so, why? Because instead or warring on others we now turn inward and war on ourselves? Oh boy, this could go on forever. Got time for a cup of coffee? Maybe a good cigar to chew on while we chat about this?

    You know, I am glad you are raising these issues, Rich.

  2. I read that about Phillip-Morris, too. I’m not clear on how the regulations will put competitors out of business. I am in favor of strong regulation over nicotine. But there is a point too far. As you say, prohibition has its own drawbacks (which we see today with the war on drugs).

    I’m not sure what all the FDA has in “mind” about nicotine. More warning labels, more restrictions on ads. I’ve no problem with that. I am not up to date on the state of the free speech law as it pertains to advertising nicotine.

    I tend to be in favor of legalizing drugs. Certainly marijuana. But it should still be regulated. Maybe restrict it to hard liquor stores (spread the wealth a bit) and pharmacies (behind the counter).

    The drug war increases gun violence (which skews our politics with a large segment voting gun rights only), criminalizes the addicted, and leads to corruption (particularly in Mexico where it inhibits economic growth which leads to illegal immigration into this country). The unintended consequences of the war on drugs is a long list.

  3. Do these electronic cigarettes really feel like the real thing? I watched a video at this website but don’t know what to think. Are there any real smokers out there that aren’t promoting a product that can tell me what you really think?

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