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Whether or not to regulate e-cigarette

by CanadaEcigs.ca on 02/15/14


Man using an e-cigarette

Electronic cigarette consumers have reacted angrily to the move by some countries to regulate electronic cigarettes with nicotine as they always consider this device as a better alternative to the nicotine-loaded tobacco cigarettes. In fact, the move only indicates that proper research about their health risks was never done.

Dr. Milan Khara, Tobacco Dependence Clinic Director at Vancouver Coastal Health Addiction Services, emphasizes this point by saying that, “some consumers consider e-cigarettes to be the ideal solution that can help them quit real cigarettes, but their long-term effects cannot be overlooked.”

"The fact that the e - cigarette vapour is less harmful as compared to smoke does not mean the vapour is completely harmless," adds Khara.

There is no conclusive evidence to suggest that e-cigarettes can pose health risks to users, but many countries have come up with some regulations for e-cigarettes. For example, according to Leslie Meerburg, Health Canada spokesperson, e-cigarettes with nicotine are considered to be drugs in Canada. The Food and Drugs Act requires manufacturers wishing to produce them to submit concrete scientific evidence demonstrating their safety, efficacy and quality to the Health Canada. Up to now, no company has been granted authorization to sell such products.

On the other hand, nicotine-free e-cigarettes can be sold in Canada as long as they meet the requirements of the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act. According to the act, companies must ensure that their products don't pose any safety or health risks to consumers. 

In Nova Scotia, Health Canada flexed its muscles slapping a nicotine-containing e-cigarette seller with a cease-and-desist directive for violating the requirements of the Food and Drugs Act. The local government of the province has also indicated that they would soon come up with e-cigarette regulations. The government has also served stores across the whole country with cease-and-desist letters, though most of them are resisting the government's move to ban the sale of nicotine-containing e-cigarettes. 

In Europe, nicotine-containing e-cigarette regulations vary according to location. A French court recently ruled that electronic cigarettes and tobacco products fall in the same category, so must also be sold by a registered tobacconist. However, the European Union allowed member countries to independently decide whether or not to regulate e-cigarettes.

In the US, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is responsible for regulating e-cigarettes sold as therapeutic devices. Although there is no regulation for other e-cigarettes at the moment, there is a proposal to regulate them too.

However, the FDA warns consumers that there is no conclusive evidence about the potential risks and benefits of e-cigarettes or about the amount of nicotine and other related chemicals being inhaled. The agency recently warned that it is unknown if electronic cigarettes can induce young users to try out tobacco cigarettes, which often cause diseases, leading to premature death.

Some states in the US have taken measures against the use of e-cigarettes, even before the FDA issues regulations. For example, New York City has prohibited the use of all kinds of e-cigarettes in public areas, such as bars, restaurants and parks. Some areas, such as Utah, North Dakota, California and Arkansas, have followed suit.