Traverse City Record-Eagle


May 24, 2014

Another View: E-cigarettes need their own federal regulations

In late April, the Food and Drug Administration proposed new regulations for electronic cigarettes. In Michigan, legislation has been introduced in the House to regulate them as tobacco products. Gov. Rick Snyder has said of the devices: “If it’s a tobacco product, treat it that way.”

But e-cigarettes, or “e-cigs,” aren’t tobacco products, and shouldn’t be classified as such.

Unnecessary restrictions on e-cigs — which are safer than tobacco products and often help smokers quit traditional cigarettes altogether — will squash innovation and likely incentivize smokers to maintain their deadly habits.

The FDA can’t point to any conclusive evidence e-cigs are harmful to one’s health, and says it needs to invest more into studies before it can determine health risks. It’s worth noting that one of the only studies so far on the issue, published in The Lancet, found e-cigs to be as or slightly more effective than other smoking cessation products.

Although the FDA plans to conduct more studies, it will try to regulate the devices as tobacco products in the meantime. But that’s putting the cart before the horse. As the agency learns more about the effects of e-cigs, it can offer regulations accordingly.

E-cigs are clearly a safer alternative than traditional cigarettes, which fill the lungs with damaging smoke byproducts.

The main component in e-cigs are cartridges filled with synthetic or tobacco-derived nicotine. It is mixed with other solvents and flavors. When a user breathes in, a small battery heats the liquids, which then become vapor.

If the nicotine is sourced from a tobacco plant, it is then purified and processed to pharmaceutical grade.

That means e-cigs contain the same type of nicotine as “nicotine replacement pharmaceutical products,” such as Nicorette or Nicoderm gums, patches, nasal inhalants and more. Since e-cigs are a similar product, they should be regulated as such.

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