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?