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The journal Addiction published a study on April 25, with seven international tobacco control experts compelling the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to have an open mind regulating vaporized nicotine products such as e-cigarettes and vaporizers.
Researchers include lead author David T. Levy, PhD, Georgetown University; K. Michael Cummings, PhD, MPH, Medical University of South Carolina; Andrea C. Villanti, PhD, MPH; Ray Niaura, PhD; David B. Abrams, PhD, Truth Initiative; Geoffrey T. Fond, PhD, University of Waterloo, Canada; and Ron Borland, PhD, Cancer Control Victoria, Australia.
Lead author Levy is “concerned the FDA, which has asserted its right to regulate e-cigarettes, will focus solely on the possibility that e-cigarettes and other vapor nicotine products might act as a gateway to cigarettes.”
“We believe that the discussion to date has been slanted against e-cigarettes, which is unfortunate, because the big picture tells us that these products appear to be used mostly by people who aready are or who are likely to become cigarette smokers,” adds Levy.
Regulating e-cigarettes and vaping products as traditional tobacco is incorrect as studies have shown that e-cigarette’s levels of intoxicants are 9-450 times lower than levels that are present in tobacco cigarette smoke. A study published by Public Health England, the U.K.’s version of the CDC, concluded that e-cigarettes are around 95% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes. E-cigarettes and vaping products are increasingly being utilized as cessation devices. Studies have shown that this industry is very beneficial to helping tobacco cigarette smokers quit.
The authors of the study also caution that substantial regulation and taxation of e-cigarettes and vaping products will diminish the potential benefits that the industry can provide.
Levy stated that “increasing e-cigarette prices by taxing them the same way as cigarettes will discourage youth VNP use, but also discourage use by smokers, especially those of lower socioeconomic status, who are trying to quit.”
As of May 2015, seven states have included e-cigarettes and vaporized nicotine dispensers in at least one definition of “tobacco product in state law”, meaning that seven states are regulating e-cigarettes, and taxing them, as tobacco products, when in fact, e-cigarettes do not contain any tobacco.
The FDA should take these studies into account when regulating e-cigarettes and vaporized nicotine products. Moving many away from tobacco cigarettes, this industry is necessary to lower health costs and outcomes associated with traditional cigarettes. As I have explained in a previous Research & Commentary, “States should take sound science into consideration when deliberating the creation of regulations or taxes on e-cigarette products. States imposing bans, excessive regulations, or high taxes on e-cigarettes could be creating an environment in which consumers choose to use more-harmful traditional cigarettes, rather than less-harmful alternatives.”