Since electronic cigarettes were launched into the market approximately ten years ago, there has been an ongoing debate as to the health risks associated with the product, and speculation around whether or not they are a safer alternative to the traditional tobacco cigarette. E-cigarettes look and feel much like regular cigarettes and cigars, except they utilize a heating element that vaporizes a liquid solution to release nicotine. As there is no smoke or flame, e-cigs eliminate some of the negative side effects of smoking tobacco, and offer some benefits. They also provide smokers the hand-to-mouth feeling that smoking regular cigarettes provide, without the hazardous long-term health issues that comes with smoking; which has helped many smokers break the bad habit.
However, as big tobacco companies continue to lobby for controls and increased regulation on this product, there is speculation that doing so will effectively push out e-cigarette smaller companies; and create barriers for those individuals who may be interested in trying the product out. Rueters reports the controls that are being proposed include lengthy health warnings, reduced product ranges, restriction on sales, and requirements on additional testing.
A fine example of this push in increased regulation is a warning that is currently produced by MarkTen, a manufacturer of electronic cigarettes. The company uses a warning on their package that is about 116 words in length; much longer than that which is used on packs of typical tobacco cigarettes. The warning goes well into the long-term effects of nicotine, which include information on how addictive the substance is, its toxicity when inhaled, how it should be avoided by pregnant or breast-feeding moms, and additional information. While health warning are not needed currently for e-cigarettes in America, MarkTen’s parent company Altria, who produces Marlboro cigarettes, believes the warning labels are the responsible thing to do.
The idea around openness to the side effects of nicotine is a long-standing one for Altria, who launched a campaign in the late 1990s for regulation around traditional cigarettes with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Back then, smaller tobacco companies accused this motive as way for the larger tobacco conglomerates to push out competition; and today’s small electronic cigarette manufacturers have seemingly taken the same stance on this issue. Through these increased rules and regulations, many seem to think that this will prevent smokers from trying and potentially switching to the new e-cig product; thus allowing the larger tobacco companies to stay on top of their profits and dominate this market.
Larger tobacco companies believe that regulation will help consumers make informed decisions, and ensure e-cig manufacturers comply with safety and quality standards; practices they believe should be followed by all companies, whether small or not.
However, while a majority of anti-tobacco campaigners agree around e-cig regulation, they believe in a lighter approach as the product has been proven to help smokers quit, and is less harmful than traditional cigarettes. Thus, stricter regulation will make it harder for people to reach for this fairly new product, and break the bad habit of smoking for good. Heavy regulations will also drive smaller e-cig companies out of business, if the rules are simply too hard to comply with.
Internationally, the electronic cigarette market could top $7 billion in 2015. According to Wells Fargo, 19, 400 vaper shops exist around the world; with America having 8,500 across the country. In the United States vaper shops account for about one-third of electronic cigarette products sold, and another third of e-cigarettes are purchased via the web.