The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has investigated the electronic cigarette industry for over two years now. There were rumors of imminent regulatory changes toward the end of 2013, but the timetable seems to have slipped yet again with very little in the way of public guidance from the FDA. There are a number of issues clouding the minds of regulators around the world, not all of which seem to be backed up statistically.
Despite the fact that the FDA has yet to announce the findings of a two-year review of the industry, many local authorities in the U.S. have already issued a number of local law changes which have outlawed the use of electronic cigarettes in public. Apparently, these changes relate to the risk of secondary smoking, although a recent study by the Department of Health Behavior at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York casts a very different light on the issue of electronic cigarettes and secondary smoking.
The report, which was co-authored by Maciej Goniewicz, compared the risk of secondary smoking when using electronic cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes. Along with measuring the nicotine content released into the local atmosphere, the research also monitored levels of carbon monoxide and an array of other organic compounds found in tobacco cigarettes.
The results were very encouraging for the electronic cigarette industry with levels of between 2.5 mg and 3.3 mg of nicotine per cubic meter of air compared to almost 32 mg for tobacco cigarettes. It was also found that while the likes of carbon monoxide and an array of other volatile compounds associated with tobacco cigarettes were detected in the smoke, there were no detectable levels produced by electronic cigarette vapor.
While governments and regulators around the world have often shied away from the issue of tobacco tax income when discussing the electronic cigarette industry, it is a valid point. Figures reported by the taxpolicycentre.org show that overall US tobacco tax income increased from $3.6 billion in 1977 to a phenomenal $17.6 billion in 2011.As we await confirmation of US electronic cigarette sales for 2013, many experts believe the US market was worth in excess of $1 billion with a worldwide market approaching $3.5 billion. This is but a fraction of the tax income created by the tobacco cigarette industry and does not even register when compared to worldwide tobacco cigarette sales.
Whether or not you agree with the regulatory standpoint of the FDA, and other regulators around the world, there is no doubt that money does talk. When you also take into account forecast growth over the next 20 years, which could see the electronic cigarette industry overtake its tobacco cigarette counterpart, we can only begin to imagine the concerns within government treasury departments around the globe.
Time and time again we have seen regulators and governments around the world state the "fact" that many people find electronic cigarettes a stepping stone to their tobacco counterparts. No government or regulator has yet to back up these claims with substantiated feedback from electronic cigarette users, often citing "experts" who themselves seem to have a biased opinion against electronic cigarettes. Indeed, there is growing evidence that many tobacco cigarette smokers are finding it very useful to switch to electronic cigarettes in the fight to reduce their tobacco intake.
When you take into account the fact that electronic cigarettes will give a tobacco cigarette smoker the nicotine hit they require, without the 4000+ toxins often associated with traditional tobacco cigarettes, why would you move onto a tobacco cigarette from an electronic cigarette?
The FDA and a variety of other public bodies in the U.S. have also cited the ongoing issue of electronic cigarette use among minors. The simple fact is that it does not require further in-depth regulating of the industry to outlaw the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors; a simple tweak of the current laws will suffice. No responsible electronic cigarette manufacturer or retailer would knowingly sell their products to a minor and therefore none of these parties have any issue with protecting the younger elements of society.
There are many issues to take into consideration when looking at the electronic cigarette industry such as taxes, health, competition, and secondary smoke -- to name a few. It is a mystery as to why the FDA is taking so long to issue its report on the electronic cigarette industry although it is worth bearing in mind that the administration did attempt to ban electronic cigarettes as "unapproved pharmaceutical products" some years ago.
We should hear from the FDA over the coming weeks although there is a feeling that this move has dragged on for too long and the ongoing momentum behind the electronic cigarette industry is building. Many electronic cigarette users in the U.S. are up in arms about a potential ban on their favorite products and indeed many are citing the tobacco cigarette companies and the influence which these giants have over politicians and medical groups.
It will be interesting to see the final ruling from the FDA although any major changes to the industry would be subject to negotiation and it is unlikely that they would come into effect immediately.