American lawmakers have fallen into a bipolar mindset over the debate on electronic cigarettes. One side of the debate sees the potential for e-cigarette to be the smoking cessation product that will restore American society to a healthier, nicotine-free place. The other side of the debate sees the e-cigarette as another socially normalized avenue towards increased nicotine addiction. Somewhere between these two extreme attitudes is a place for the e-cigarette in American society, but it will require American lawmakers, Congress specifically, to come to terms with how the e-cigarette will be defined. As this happens, over 200 electronic cigarette brands (see all brands here) wait to see how their future pans.
Why are some Congressmen against e-Cigarettes?
The FDA and federal lawmakers are in a debate as to how the e-cigarette will be classified. If it is a cessation aid for therapeutic use, then it can be classified in the same category as a nicotine patch. The attitude is that the e-cigarette delivers a purer form of nicotine by eliminating tar, metals and pesticides found in government approved cigarettes. Much like the nicotine patch, the intention is to gradually wean the user from the physical habit of smoking and from the chemical dependency of the nicotine.
However, if the e-cigarette is being targeted for smokers, rather than those trying to quit, some lawmakers view the product as simply another form of smoking. As an inhalant of nicotine, it should be met with all the same regulations as other tobacco products: including the sale to minors, and where the product can be consumed. There is an attitude amongst some lawmakers that allowing e-cigarettes to be used indoors or in places forbidden for regular tobacco products, it will return smoking to the public eye. This is perceived as a threat that might undermine efforts made in the tobacco and nicotine cessations campaigns of the last decade. Others argue that e-cigarettes encourage a mimicking of cigarette use amongst minors and will socially normalize smoking amongst youth.
State Regulation on e-Cigarettes
With the federal government not establishing legislation on the use of e-cigarettes, it is up to the state and municipal lawmakers to address the accessibility and use of e-cigarettes. Most states have adopted a policy of not allowing the sale of the e-cigarettes to minors, and the product comes under the existing legislations for the use of tobacco and nicotine products. This is a debate built around attitudes that swing wide on the continuum of acceptability of tobacco and nicotine products. There is no clear winner in this ongoing debate.