The two sides will not be able to agree about e-cigs, it seems, not even when evidence is on the table. If you are against electronic cigarettes, you see a cover-up in the making and government agencies in cahoots with Big Tobacco (which is designing and launching its own electronic cigarettes).
If you are for e-cigs, you imagine that non-vaping parties are paranoid or that government agencies are just cooking up ways to control the industry and get more money out of it. Maybe both sides are a little right and a little wrong.
Thousands of Lives Saved
In the UK, the mood is in favor of e-cigs. Health officials and consumers argue that these pen-sized devices could save thousands of lives annually. They even make allowances for the potential that a few hyper-sensitive or unlucky consumers might suffer from the effects of consuming nicotine, allergies to propylene glycol, or from exploding e-cigs and arrive at the conclusion that they do more good than harm. Pro-vaping bodies argue against regulation.
The Anti-Nicotine Camp
Meanwhile, groups are arguing that nicotine inhaled directly or second-hand is dangerous; that children will still become ill if their mothers and fathers vape in their presence, and that nicotine addiction could even lead to drug dependency. Sweet flavors and sexy advertising of e-liquid and cigalikes are said to encourage youth to take up vaping and that, when they do so, they will inadvertently develop reliance on nicotine.
Nicotine is a stimulant similar to caffeine, one which some cardiac experts claim is so potent it can cause cardiac incidents and even death. The World Health Organization has taken its stance against vaping in public and even being able to sell e-cigs generally (one of their recently released reports has stirred up quite the debates). Watchdogs want regulation so that, at least, if these products are approved by the FDA, they are approved in a limited way.
Balancing the Argument
Regulation is not a bad thing in and of itself. Incidents of nicotine poisoning have been reported to Poison Control in growing numbers. Some e-liquid companies have operated without proper hygiene methods or unsafe ingredients. E-cigs have exploded and burned individuals whether they tried to charge them with the wrong hardware, overcharged them, or just took them out of the box.
Anti-smoking groups wonder: would many vapers have given up smoking eventually if they had not tried vaping at all? Maybe electronic cigarettes were never necessary and are just replacing one dependency with another.
These incidents and worries, however, seem to pale in comparison with the overwhelming majority of cases where smokers took up vaping after trying every smoking cessation method they had heard of from prayer to hypnosis, patches to chewing gum. Countless people believe they nearly died because smoking was robbing them of their health when they were introduced to e-cigs and their lives were turned around.
But vapers might forget that the tobacco industry tried to promote smoking as “safe” not that long ago and introduced filters and low-tar cigarettes as though those would limit the danger. As it turned out, their stance was motivated by money, not facts, and smokers took the bait. It was easier for smokers to defend their habit.
A reasonable individual, seeing the issue from two sides, can see that Americans are once bitten, twice shy. Non-smoking advocates can also sympathize with vapers who saw what cigarettes did to family members who died painfully, slowly, from smoking-related illnesses and understand why they feel passionately about the topic.
Regulation is coming. The government should not be convinced to over-regulate and continue the witch hunt. While waiting for science to yield facts, both sides need to recognize the pros and cons of electronic cigarettes.