E-cigarettes: sending the wrong smoke-signal

  • Europe
  • United States
  • Health care
  • Smoking and tobacco
  • Health and fitness

E cigarettes are not entirely risk free. Little research has yet been done about their long term health effects. Nicotine is, in implausibly large doses, a poison. Even in small ones it is addictive and the amount of the chemical dispensed by e cigarettes varies from one brand to another. But it is already clear that whatever health risks may emerge in studies of e cigarette use, they are vastly less lethal than traditional smokes.

Given the prospect of weaning the world s billion or so smokers onto something much less harmful, as well as protecting children and others from second hand smoke, there is a more sensible approach. Europe should tighten the existing rules on labelling and quality control that affect e cigarettes. America should also increase oversight. Governments should then invest in rigorous testing and see how the product evolves. For e cigarettes are changing rapidly in response to consumer demand. In America around 300m of them will be sold this year, three times the figure in 2012.

This seems to worry pharmaceutical firms, which in Europe are lobbying for curbs on e cigarettes, a competitor to their nicotine patches and other quitting aids. Big tobacco firms are working on e cigarettes of their own, as well as cigarettes that heat rather than burn the tobacco. But they have an interest in slowing the switch to smokeless smokes. If the innovative smaller firms that make most e cigarettes have to seek a licence every time they want to offer a new flavour or strength, the move towards safer nicotine consumption will be slowed.

Careless regulation costs lives

So far it seems that most regular vapers of e cigarettes are smokers or ex smokers. But over time the prospect of a relatively harm free nicotine kick could draw in many new users. This risk, and the lack of long term research on the residual risks of nicotine, argue for restricting the sales of e cigarettes to children. But as far as adults are concerned, they should be subject to less regulation than alcohol (which is far more harmful) and perhaps to no more than caffeine, another addictive and mildly poisonous substance whose widespread use governments see no need to curb. The risk of getting more people addicted to something relatively harmless is well worth taking, given the opportunity for curbing dramatically the world s single most harmful voluntary activity. Politicians should stand back and let a thousand e cig brands bloom.

European mps say ‘no’ to crackdown on electronic cigarettes

Critics fear electronic cigarettes could ‘trick’ young people into smoking GETTY

Backers of «e cigarettes» argued that a new licensing system would reduce availability of a key weapon against smoking and would penalise firms with large costs.

The UK Government wanted tighter regulation of the tobacco free products, which turn a solution containing nicotine into vapour which users «smoke» through a cylinder.

Critics fear they could «trick» young people into smoking. The Department of Health admitted it was disappointed the European Parliament had rejected stricter regulation and vowed to keep pressing for the devices to be treated like medicines.

The vote was the Parliament s first on the draft EU Tobacco Directive which could become law next year and be implemented across Europe within two years.

There will now be more negotiations between the Parliament and EU member states to try to get agreement before next May s European elections.

The UK s medicines regulator has already said it wants e cigs to be treated like other nicotine products to ensure their quality and content can be checked.

E cigarettes turn a nicotine solution into vapour which is ‘smoked’ through a cylinder GETTY

Forcing e cigs off the shelves would have been totally crazy

Tory MEP Martin Callanan

But British Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies welcomed the vote, saying «E cigs can be a game changer in the fight against smoking.»

Tory MEP Martin Callanan said «Forcing e cigs off the shelves would have been totally crazy.»

MEPs dismayed campaigners by rejecting a ban on flavoured brands, such as menthol cigarettes.

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5 комментариев to “E-cigarettes: sending the wrong smoke-signal”

  1. intellectual property issues. Even in Australia … the government’s own intellectual property body, IP Australia, recently advised … that plain packaging ‘may not be consistent with Australia’s intellectual property treaty obligations’ and ‘would make it easier for counterfeit goods to be produc

    • uthor /matt peckham /","name" "Matt Peckham","bio" "Matt Peckham writes about games and general technology for TIME. His work has appeared in Variety, WIRED, The Washington Post, ABC News and others. He has an M.A. in English from Creighton University and lives in Michigan. Drop him a line here.","t

    • tecting future generations from the dangers of smoking. Eine elektrische Zigarette, auch E Cig oder E Zigarette genannt, ist ein Ger&auml t, das nikotinhaltige Flussigkeit erhitzt und Dampf erzeugt. welcher vom Benutzer eingeatmet wird. Der Vorgang dient als System zur Nikotinzufuhr. E Cigs heben si

  2. ave millions of lives and have already had a positive impact on society. MEPs are set to vote on the matter on Tuesday GETTY Restrictions have been focused on preventing children and young people from picking up masked cigarettes who may be tricked in smoking. E cigarettes are designed as an alterna

  3. s) at risk for the same health problems as their parents when they become adults. Although quitting can be difficult, the health benefits of smoking cessation are immediate and substantial including reduced risk for cancers, heart disease, and stroke. A 35 year old man who quits smoking will, on ave

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