Some Regulators Urge Keeping An Open Mind About E-Cigarettes

While the power mad politicians, public health advocates looking for a new ‘gravy train’ and a fear mongering media continues to pile on e-cigarettes and their users there are some regulators urging a different tactic. They suggest that the e-cigarette scolds keep an open mind about the nascent industry and consider the ‘big picture’ of possible health benefits. In what amounts to good news for the e-cigarette industry the top level government official charged with their oversight has recently begun to forcefully advocate this refreshing and pragmatic view.

That would be Mitch Zeller, who heads up the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products. With the FDA recently claiming oversight jurisdiction for the industry Zeller’s opinion now carries a lot of weight. And unlike the majority of scolds and regulators who hypocritically overlook e-cigarettes role in helping people quit smoking he gets it. He wants “advocates and foes to view nicotine-containing products as a continuum — from cigarettes, to their electronic counterparts, to cessation gums and patches” which is precisely what they *haven’t* been doing in their rush to demonize the product simply because it ‘looks like’ cigarette smoking. Reminding the parasites that it’s not about the nicotine but rather the ‘delivery method’ he suggested that it might be time to ‘rethink’ the role of nicotine.

With very little data on the long term health impact of e-cigarette use any kneejerk reaction is premature and misguided–not that this reality will stop the rush of scolds and regulators to get their fangs into the industry. The FDA should be credited for their somewhat realistic and pragmatic view of the e-cigarette industry. There’s a good reason for that–recent research suggests that e-cigarette users are 60% more likely to quit smoking than non users. Unfortunately the mainstream media has been very quiet in reporting this benefit of e-cigarette use. The media is typically fearful of the future of technology so it’s not surprising but their disinformation does have an impact on public opinion.

Of course given the FDA’s track record of regulatory overreach it’ll take more than some well chosen words to improve their image. There may be some hope, however. They recently backtracked on their silly plan to crack down on wood aged cheese which is a sign of progress though not proposing an unnecessary regulation in the first place would be even better.