Last week, Nevada Attorney General, Catherine Cortez Masto joined 28 other attorneys in an official letter supporting the FDA’s (Food and Drug Administration) proposal to expand the umbrella over various tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes. Unfortunately, the FDA has not properly assessed the costs of suppressing the e cigarette industry, and may be unintentionally jeopardizing public health.
The Food and Drug Administration in America has been following the assumption that electronic cigarettes pose a serious health risk. It does not consider the facts on how electronic cigarettes can improve the overall public health.
According to numerous studies, electronic cigarettes can help many smokers quit or reduce smoking tobacco products. Some studies even suggest that electronic cigarettes are more effective than FDA approved therapies, such as pills, gms and patches. Their overall effectiveness is related to how e cigarettes mimic the basic act of smoking and the fact that users can control their nicotine intake, even reducing it to zero.
Federal regulators have completely dismissed the harm reduction theory. According to this theory, minimizing the damage from risky behaviour can promote public health more efficiently and effectively than simply banning risky behaviour. This model even backs claims that around 98% of tobacco related deaths are attributed to combustible products, such as cigars, pipes and cigarettes.
The Food and Drug Administration have been downplaying the possibility that non-combustible products like electronic cigarettes are less dangerous. The FDA believes there is not much evidence to support these claims. However, the AMA (American Medical Association) completely disagrees with the FDA.
According to the American Medical Association, electronic cigarettes do not contain tobacco, thus do not contain tar and many of the other harmful chemicals that go in to tobacco. Tobacco is the primary reason why cigarettes are harmful. In addition to this, vapour from electronic cigarettes is less toxic than second hand smoke. Although electronic cigarettes contain nicotine, it does not contribute to a lot of smoking related diseases, unlike tobacco.
What will be the Impact of the Ruling?
The proposed ruling set out by the Las Vegas attorneys may have some serious implications. There will be warning statements and labelling requirements for advertisements and packaging. However, public health may be harmed if manufacturers and distributors are prohibited from promoting electronic cigarettes as safer alternatives. The ruling may even prohibit marketers from informing customers that electronic cigarettes don’t contain tobacco.
The proposed ruling will force manufacturers to compromise other factors, such as price, convenience and flavour. This will steer manufacturers away from designing and developing new products to help smokers quit or reduce smoking. When electronic cigarette prices are raised, it will be unlikely to promote the overall state of public health.
If manufacturers and distributors are not allowed to inform smokers that electronic cigarettes are safer alternatives, the Food and Drug Administration may unintentionally be promoting tobacco use. Due to this, the proposed ruling weakens the destruction exerted by the electronic cigarette industry over the tobacco industry.
There is also strong evidence that most smokers are interested in either reducing or quitting smoking. People keep looking for some safer alternative to smoking tobacco. According to a recent poll conducted by Gallup, around 75% smokers in the United States want to quit smoking. A top rated tobacco analyst, Bonnie Herzog, Wells Fargo Securities, estimates that electronic cigarettes sales in the USA have been increasingly rapidly. More than $1.7 billion worth electronic cigarettes were sold last year.
According to the CDC, the annual costs associated with smoking in the USA range between $289 billion and $333 billion. With information about these costs, the CDC has focused on the fact that more than 32 million smokers want to quit smoking. In the coming years, the market response towards electronic cigarettes could be exceptional.
Although the Food and Drug Administration should regulate electronic cigarettes, it should be kept at a minimum. There should be clear descriptions of all the ingredients on the label. Moreover, sales to youth should be prohibited. However, if the FDA prohibits information about harm reduction related to tobacco products, it cannot and should not be justified.
The Food and Drug Administration should develop an appropriate regulatory strategy. It should consider the various benefits of electronic cigarettes, and the unintentional effects on public health by creating obstacles in this harm reduction industry.
In simple terms, the Food and Drug Administration should not eliminate the financial incentive to design and develop safer smoking products. In fact, it should encourage a competitive market to help consumers make smart decisions about what they want in their bodies.
We all know that there is huge money in the tobacco industry and the billion dollar corporations in this field are not averse to using underhand tactics to boost their profit margins. No doubt they are behind the push to hinder the electronic cigarette market because it is in direct competition with their own products.
Let’s just hope Las Vegas don’t bow to the pressure. It would be fantastic if this pioneering city could lead the way in promoting e cigarettes as a healthier alternative to tobacco and not inadvertently give tobacco boost by putting stricter legislation on e cigs. Only time will tell.
Author: Kevin Ewbank
Avid vaper & co-founder of SmokShop