The E-Cigarette Double Standard

Since the beginning of the e-cigarette debate over their safety and effectiveness to help smokers quit the habit, there have been those on both sides making claims. On one side there are many e-cigarette companies marketing the product as a “healthier way to smoke” and that they can help users quit smoking. And although the evidence is pointing to these conclusions, it is hard to deny that these claims may be premature. On the other hand, those against electronic cigarettes tout that e-cigarettes may be as, or more, harmful than tobacco cigarettes. They claim they are full of antifreeze and that they are marketed directly to children. These misleading statements about the potential dangers of electronic cigarettes do little to help smokers the actual difference between the two recreational products.

So here are the facts as we know them today: All surveys and studies done to date show evidence that e-cigarettes are at least as effective as NRTs in helping people quit smoking. However no one has completed the required clinical trials for the FDA to be able to make this claim. And no one likely will, since the e-cigarette has been deemed a tobacco product in the United States by the courts, rather than a NRT. As for the anti-freeze claim, the FDA did find trace levels of diethylene glycol in one companies e-cigarettes a few years ago. It was not found in any other companies products and wasn’t found in all samples. Yes, regulations to ensure only food grade ingredients are used are important, but to claim all e-cigarette users are inhaling toxins is absurd.

nicotine gumThe Guardian recently published an article entitled “Watch out, e-cigarette smokers – you’re inhaling the unknown“. And in the article the author, Tom Riddington, states.

With a little research, it is clear that we do not know the risks of using e-cigarettes long-term, and the potential for harm is significant. Until the same regulations as other nicotine replacements are imposed, e-cigarettes should be considered a snake-oil gimmick that could get a new generation hooked on nicotine before their first smoke.

This is where the double standard comes in. When a Nicotine Replacement Therapy product is introduced, the FDA looks at what is in it and whether or not it is effective in helping users quit smoking. They test it for 6 months to ensure no other problems arise. However 6 months is a far cry from knowing the long term effects. So why should e-cigarettes be held to a higher standard than FDA approved nicotine products? And e-cigarettes have been used in the US since 2007 with no major side effects reported.

As for getting kids hooked on the product, what about flavors of nicotine gum? Or just the fact that they put nicotine into gum, which is a kid favorite to begin with.

In conclusion, it is very much possible to also write, “With a little research, it is clear that we do not know the risks of using nicotine gum long-term, and the potential for harm is significant. Until different regulations are imposted, nicotine gum should be considered a snake-oil gimmick that could get a new generation hooked on nicotine before their first smoke.”

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