Is it now time for a full and frank debate on electronic cigarettes?
If you are looking towards the electronic cigarette industry today with fresh eyes and a totally impartial view, how would you see the way the sector is progressing and what it has to offer you? Would you be influenced by the mass media (which has not been exactly helpful for the industry) or would you look towards more specific, subject focused websites which perhaps offer a greater insight into electronic cigarettes and the world of vaping?
Whatever your views, whatever your opinions it looks more and more as though now is the time for a full and frank debate about electronic cigarettes.
Despite much speculation in the press, relatively negative comments from regulators and political interference, the regulatory issues surrounding electronic cigarettes are far from clear. On one hand we have the European Union, apparently under pressure from those opposed to electronic cigarettes, trying to push through strict regulations while on the other the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US appears incapable of delivering anything on time.
While some might suggest that a lack of regulation and no long-term framework will play into the hands of the electronic cigarette industry, this is not necessarily the case. Many potential electronic cigarette users would prefer to see a regulatory framework and indeed many electronic cigarette companies would prefer this as well. The lack of a regulatory framework creates the perfect environment for speculation, rumours and untruths to very quickly become “facts and figures”.
What do you know about health issues and electronic cigarettes? How do they compare to their tobacco cigarette counterparts? At this moment in time there have been no major health issues identified as a consequence of using electronic cigarettes although all parties acknowledge a need for long-term trials. Did this surprise you?
If you read the mass media you could be mistaken for assuming that the electronic cigarette industry is the devil incarnate and something of a “Wild West Market”. All parties acknowledge there is a need for long-term health trials, medical trials are currently underway and so far the news has been encouraging – due in the main to the fact that electronic cigarettes do not encompass the 4000+ toxins in a traditional tobacco cigarette. Many people will likely be surprised to learn that electronic cigarette companies are wholeheartedly in favour of long-term trials because this is not what opponents of electronic cigarettes would like you to believe.
Selling to minors
The subject of electronic cigarette sales to those under the age of 18 is certainly a hot topic at the moment, especially in the US. Many politicians have made mention of the alleged sale of electronic cigarettes to those under 18 years of age despite the fact that responsible electronic cigarette manufacturers have strict policies in place to alleviate this problem. Why would responsible electronic cigarette manufacturers wish to sell these products to those under the age of 18?
The sale of products to those under the age of 18 has also been heavily discussed together with a suggestion that electronic cigarettes offer a gateway to tobacco cigarettes. This is something which the political elite continue to push, to insinuate and use as a means of discussing further regulations and perhaps more pointedly, taxes. Numerous surveys have confirmed that electronic cigarettes are not a gateway to tobacco cigarettes and indeed the vast majority of electronic cigarette users are moving away from tobacco cigarettes. A frank and open debate on the subject would allow all parties to have their say and hopefully clarify the situation once and for all.
Time and time again governments and regulators around the world have been accused of politicising the electronic cigarette industry with the long-term aim of replacing tobacco cigarette taxes with electronic cigarette taxes. While no government has yet confirmed that this is their long-term intention we have seen a number of state authorities in the US attempt to push through minimal taxes – at least in the short-term – on electronic cigarettes. Interestingly many of these attempts have met with resistance from the voting public and a number of draft bills have been thrown out.
For many years now there has been a suspicion that governments around the world will eventually attempt to replace their tobacco tax income with electronic cigarette taxes. Perhaps if the authorities were upfront about their long-term plans they would gain surprising support from electronic cigarette users and the industry as a whole. It is the perceived underhand nature with which some governments and state authorities are attempting to penalise the electronic cigarette industry which is causing a major backlash.
If you were to search the internet about electronic cigarette taxes, health issues, regulations and sales policies you would likely be confused to say the least. Each day seems to bring an array of contradictory comments, rumours and untruths which have in many ways cast a dark cloud over some elements of the industry. Even though the industry has answered these questions time and time again it is the mass media, often under pressure from third parties, which has perhaps fallen short in its duty to give fair and accurate coverage of the subject.
Many are now calling for an open and honest debate about the electronic cigarette industry taking in an array of subjects including those mentioned above. This will allow all parties to put their views forward, to back-up their opinions with cold hard facts and at last clear some of the mist which has descended upon the sector. Only then will those looking towards the industry with fresh eyes and a fresh appetite be able to understand exactly what is going on.
Mark Benson is a contributing author for Spinfuel eMagazine. His continuing columns will bring a level headed approach to the dynamics involved in realizing a positive future for the e-cigarette industry. For more information on electronic cigarettes and the various products available please visit the OKCigs website