E-Cigs, or electronic cigarettes, are a booming industry, doubling in sales in this past year to $1.7 billion. It’s a product that has drawn a love-hate relationship. Some people love that they have been able to give up a smoking habit, love how economical they are compared to standard cigarettes, and love that “vaping” is decidedly different from “smoking” because the e-cigarette only gives off water vapors. And there are some people who don’t like the lack of regulations that allow kids to purchase e-cigs, are quick to point out that there hasn’t been any significant research to prove that they are safe, and just plain don’t like smoking.
“They are obviously very enticing as far as youth goes,” says Dr. Alexander Prokhorov, Professor in the Department of Behavioral Science at MD Anderson Cancer Center. “The drug industry would certainly love to recruit young smokers to replace those who die because of tobacco related illnesses or those who quit smoking.”
Dr. Prokhorov says it’s hard to endorse the product because there has been so little testing and research done on it. He says it is hard to know if the amount of nicotine listed on the box is in fact the amount of nicotine delivered, because it is completely unregulated.
The Food and Drug Administration does not, yet, regulate e-cigs. That is expected to change this month. Attorneys general from 40 states have asked the FDA to restrict the age of buyers to 18 and over.
People trying to kick a smoking habit are often the biggest boosters of e-cigs. Manufacturers though are not allowed to promote their product as a quit-smoking tool without inviting FDA oversight.
It remains to be seen if taxation and regulation will be satisfying to clients and sellers.