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This is the second in a three-part series on e-cigarettes. Part I is available here.
Vapor products contain no tobacco. They produce no smoke. Most contain nicotine and it’s the same nicotine used in FDA-approved gums and patches. While the devices look different, they all operate by heating a liquid solution (propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerin, nicotine and flavor) to produce an aerosol. Importantly, the products allow users to replicate the act of smoking. Like smokers, vapers engage hands and mouths in a ritual similar to the one they practiced every day for many years as a smoker. Like a smoker, the vaper inhales and exhales and can both feel and see the vapor produced. But unlike cigarette smoke, the aerosol dissipates quickly. There’s no smoke, no tar, and no carbon monoxide – the things that cause half of all smokers to get sick and some to die. Nicotine doesn’t cause lung cancer or make smokers sick. As far as its heath impact, it’s comparable to caffeine. As long as you don’t consume caffeine or nicotine through smoking, most people can use it without incident for an entire adult lifetime. Nicotine also seems to bring health benefits for some.
There is little doubt that part of the consternation of tobacco control groups and regulators simply arose from the fact that products are called e-cigarettes and using them resembles smoking. That reaction is emotional, not rational. Perhaps we can appreciate that it motivates tobacco controllers to investigate further. Rather than investigate and try to understand, however, the FDA initially stepped in and attempted to shut the industry down by banning the importation of e-cigarettes as unapproved medical devices. And electronic cigarette company, NJOY (previously Sottera), was targeted by the FDA and had imported products seized at the US border. NJOY fought the federal government, ultimately winning in court.