Europe to regulate e-cigarettes; FDA next?

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This came from an editorial from the New York Times supporting ecig regulation.

The European Parliament last week (honestly didn’t realize there was such a thing, but it’s the governing body of the European Union, apparently)  voted to regulated e-cigarettes, perhaps laying the groundwork for the FDA in the U.S. to someday regulate these things (yes, they appear to be wholly unregulated at this point).

In Europe, the advertising of ecigs will now be banned, and the amount of nicotine limited in the cartridges. I think I’ve mentioned repeatedly one of my concerns about ecigs is the way they are being marketed — sexy, suave, alluring — just the way cigarettes have been advertised (to teens) for many, many years.

Part of the big debate about ecigs was whether to classify them as a medicine or a tobacco product. Are they a medicine because they help some people quit like nicotine gum or patches, or a tobacco product, because they’re simply a nicotine delivery system that some people use when they’re in places they’re not allowed to smoke. It’s a good question. In the end, the European Parliament made some compromises, but ultimate will regulate ecigs as a tobacco product.

Some members of Parliament expect ecig companies to sue over the regulations.

“This was a very bad agreement,” said Martin Callanan, a British Conservative Party politician who said he opposed e-cigarette regulation on the ground that the products help people stop smoking. “It’s a massive loss for public health in Europe.”

Mr. Callanan, who backed most of Wednesday’s tobacco law reforms, said the details on e-cigarettes were “still very murky” and added, “I’m sure a lot of this will end up in the courts.”

I agree that advertising of ecigs needs to be reeled in. The use of ecigs is growing among teens because a) it’s cheaper than cigarettes, and I’m afraid b) those ecig ads are making it look cool, just like cigarettes.

The problem with this, is that while ecigs are not as toxic as cigarettes, they still contain nicotine, and are just as addictive as cigarettes. Ecigs might be effective for some people to quit smoking (maybe, the jury is out on this, I’ve heard and read anecdotes to support both sides), but they are not a good idea as a “substitute” for cigarettes, especially for kids. They are still getting addicted to nicotine and still inhaling toxic substances.

 

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