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The electronic cigarette debate continues to grow bringing in more and more views and an array of governments, regulators, customers and electronic cigarette companies. There is much confusion, untruths and rumours surrounding the industry which begs the question, are cigarettes the problem or the solution?
If we look at different elements of the electronic cigarette debate it very soon becomes clear that electronic cigarettes are in some ways a problem but most definitely a potential solution to the issue of tobacco cigarette addiction. We will now take a look at some of the different elements of the argument to give a balanced approach to the industry.
Uncertainty surrounding electronic cigarettes
At this moment in time there is no definitive evidence to suggest that electronic cigarettes are a major health hazard going forward and indeed even the most ardent of critics acknowledge they are at worst “less harmful” than their tobacco cigarette counterparts.
Even though some politicians, regulators and those against the electronic cigarette industry suggest that electronic cigarette companies are against long-term medical trials, this is certainly not the case. This is the only way to clear up any issues, untruths and rumours surrounding the industry and give potential users a more balanced and fulfilled argument to consider.
There are also other issues surrounding electronic cigarettes such as the cost, the standard of products across the industry and even the problem of electronic cigarettes falling into the hands of minors. These are all issues which have been addressed, are being addressed and will be resolved in the short to medium term.
Governments seem intent on implementing an electronic cigarette tax of some sort, self-regulation within the industry is improving quality control and there are already laws in place to prevent the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors. More needs to be done but the industry is hardly standing idly by.
Are electronic cigarettes a solution to a long-term problem?
While the tobacco cigarette industry continues to decline it is still worth in excess of $700 billion per annum. It has created corporate monsters in the shape of tobacco cigarette companies with major influence and enormous financial power.
The issue of tobacco cigarette addiction is one which has never fully been addressed by governments and regulators around the world with many observers suggesting there is a conflict of interests bearing in mind the enormous tobacco cigarette taxes at stake.
Due to the way in which electronic cigarettes are currently regulated they cannot be promoted or advertised as any form of medical device and are in effect standalone products. The reality is that many tobacco cigarette smokers find electronic cigarettes a useful means of reducing their tobacco intake and indeed many have reported an improvement in their health.
If we listen to the electronic cigarette consumer market, if we listen to those on the ground it soon becomes apparent that they are a potential solution to long-term tobacco cigarette addiction which has been around for decades.
Conflict of interests
Governments and regulators around the world are in a very difficult position because they receive billions of dollars of tax income from tobacco products. Indeed there is evidence to suggest that tobacco companies and pharmaceutical groups enjoy a close relationship with some governments around the world prompting a potential conflict of interests.
If we take a balanced approach towards governments and regulators around the world there is no doubt that they do have an obligation to protect the wider public, they do have a role to play in regulating the industry but perhaps this obligation should be fulfilled without interference from third parties?
We have seen alleged evidence suggesting behind-the-scenes lobbying against electronic cigarettes with a number of tobacco companies quiet in public but perhaps a little more vocal in private. Indeed while tobacco cigarette companies effectively ignored the potential challenge from electronic cigarettes when they were considered a “niche market” at the turn-of-the-century, recently they have been investing enormous amounts of money in this alternative market.
This in itself has caused an issue amongst the wider public with suggestions that tobacco cigarette companies are effectively hedging their bets and will use previously so-called “aggressive tactics” to try and dominate the electronic cigarette market.
While there is no doubt that there are issues which need to be addressed with regards to electronic cigarettes, and especially their long-term health implications, there is also no doubt that many people find them a solution to the issue of long-term tobacco addiction. Public and private lobbying has muddied the water yet further with an array of companies, lobbying bodies and politicians entering the fray.
There are rumours, counter rumours and blatant untruths circulating with regard to the industry at a time when many people are just asking for a balanced debate and a balanced argument. The debate regarding long-term health implications will be addressed in the coming years with trials ongoing but those with a vested interest against a successful electronic cigarette industry need to appreciate and acknowledge their potential benefits.
There are pros and cons regarding electronic cigarettes, there are outstanding issues which need to be addressed and confirmed but to effectively regulate this industry alongside tobacco products is blatantly wrong. Electronic cigarettes of today contain liquid nicotine but they do not contain tobacco or the 4000+ toxins present in the modern day tobacco cigarette. It is also worth noting that secondary smoking was a major reason for the ongoing worldwide public smoking ban although this is not an issue with electronic cigarettes which release a water vapour as opposed to smoke.
The time has come for a balanced debate and a balanced argument about the electronic cigarette industry.