ICBioethics Blog 

The Next Big Public Health Debate: E-Cigarettes

Written by: Leah Jeunnette, Ph.D.(c)

E-Cigarette commercials are all over the television. Currently, there is no regulation for marketing, sales, and warnings labels like regular cigarettes. Six of the largest e-cigarette companies have spent an estimated $59 million on advertising and promotions, with sales reaching $2 billion in 2013.

The FDA currently has the authority to regulate tobacco products that includes marketing and manufacturing, but cannot ban tobacco products all together. Interestingly, the FDA has been working on regulations since 2011, for e-cigarettes.

As a non-smoker, I would like to see regulation that limits marketing (especially to minors), age restrictions for purchase and consumption, and warning labels that are similar to current tobacco products.  Do I believe that these regulations will stop the problems? No, but I believe that not having regulation for extended periods of time, like we currently have is more problematic. Look how long it look for regular cigarettes to have regulations and combat the mixed marketing messages to understand of the dangers of smoking. We should learn from the past, and the FDA needs to be more proactive in their regulation.

Like regular tobacco products, e-cigarettes will not be outright banned. The principle of autonomy is demonstrated by allowing the sale and consumption of such products. It is important for thorough research studies to demonstrate health risks including second-hand smoke from e-cigarettes, in order for consumers to make informed decisions. In the mean time, regulations of the products would be better than no regulation at all.

Mitch GennusoComment