Setting The Scene
I’ve been involved in a few conversations recently that have centered on the emerging laws and regulations surrounding eCigarettes and vaping. Or rather, more talking about how the vaping community feels that things are not being handled at this point. So, I decided it was time to write a word for regulators about eCigarettes / vaping when it comes to determining how best to design laws, regulations, guidance, etc.
This article really doesn’t cover everything that I have to say on this subject, but I believe it is a good starting point. I welcome feedback from vapers and non-vapers alike, to get some of the points, ideas, and thoughts out in the open. Use the comments section below, or feel free to use the contact form on the menu above.
We have seen several negative stories in the press recently. These, of course, are mostly irresponsibly written pieces, such as the one about E-cigarette accidents prompt poison centers’ warning (via USA Today). Or, the story of a man found guilty of violating a law by using an eCigarette, even though the law doesn’t apply to eCigarettes (via Knoxville Business Examiner). And, possibly the most annoying recent article: Selling a Poison by the Barrel: Liquid Nicotine for E-Cigarettes (via The New York Times) which has been widely syndicated.
Now, these articles are examples of why lawmakers and regulators need now, more than ever, more guidance in making laws and regulations regarding eCigarettes. The thing is, the evidence so far is showing that lawmakers just are not paying attention to the evidence that counterbalances these typically over hyperbolic, extravagant and frequently just factually wrong articles.
Here’s a few thoughts and suggestions before things get too far wrong (which some already think they are).
Take A Light Handed Approach
Currently there is very little factually substantial reason to take action. Most of the stories, like the ones listed above, have major holes or gaps in their coverage. For example, conflating manufacturers purchase of large quantities of fluids with that of the consumer. It’s just flat wrong. Consumers purchase vastly smaller quantities, typically 5-30ml of fluid at a time, not a gallon. And, the amounts of nicotine in those 5-30ml bottles are in the range of 6-24mg — the same range as current tobacco products. Believing the incorrect information in these articles leads to wild speculations and / or actions that are just not appropriate.
Also, the science surrounding eCigarettes is still emerging, however some people seem to feel it appropriate to sound alarm bells by writing new studies that just drag up old, incorrectly done studies. This is a problem sometimes in the scientific community, a major splash is made when a new study is published, but the corrections that are made later don’t get the same level of attention. And, in some cases, the initial studies are still cited later, and the corrections are missed.
Slightly more distressing is that the studies that are heavily underwritten are the ones that get the most exposure. Unfortunately, those are also often the studies that are conducted with the purpose of making a point, and do not always follow the most sound scientific processes. Generally for each one of these studies, peer review groups will point out the problems with the studies, however without the funding to promote their findings they are often overlooked.
While all of this back and forth, he said, she said is going on, it’s just best to sit back and wait. Let the scientists sort things out, or failing that make certain to find all the information regarding studies in order to have a fully formed opinion on the matter.
Listen To The People
It possibly seems counter intuitive on one level, however the fact is that the people who are already using the product have the most direct experience with it. We can give the best insights if we are allowed to. We can tell you the things that we would like to see happen if there is going to be laws or regulations, and many of us have a clearer picture of the situation without the bias of being representatives of a company that is either for or against eCigarettes.
The fact is, our experience will tell you more about the state of the industry, the feelings of those around us, and what the real implications of the product are. The fact is, many of us have experiences that are what you should be paying attention to. The fact is, laws and regulations are really for the people, not for the companies. The people should be the basis for the laws.
Look For Good Examples
There are companies and organizations that set really high standards for operating their businesses and participating in the eCigarette and Vaping community. I’ve referenced several organizations in other articles, including AEMSA and CASAA. I’ve also referenced companies like V2 and Halo for following the standards / regulations that already exist, and setting the bar very high in terms of quality products, and transparency.
If anything, applying the standards that these organizations and companies have set to regulating the industry, then you would be taking appropriate measures to ensure safety for those involved in the production of these products. It should be pretty clear that instead of trying to look for reasons to ban a new industry, it would be better to make the current regulatory structure that is already available apply to the new industry. That means less work in writing new laws and regulations that could potentially kill a promising industry, and instead focusing on establishing standards that the industry can live up to fort he benefit of the consumers.
A Word For Regulators About eCigarettes / Vaping: Summary
In the end, I think the points come down to this:
- Be cautious about sources. Hyperbolic and inaccurate statements are flooding the media these days.
- Don’t try to apply laws where they don’t apply.
- Regulate first for safety.
- Look for good scientific information. Be cautious about scientific studies that have been dis-proven or seriously questioned by part of the scientific community.
- Look for good examples: there are organizations and companies that are setting the standards for this industry. Seek them out, and find out how they are voluntarily applying current regulations to make consumer safe products. Follow their lead in making industry standards.
- Use laws only when regulations are inadequate.
And, there was one final point to make: don’t confusing vaping with tobacco cigarettes. They are vastly different. The scientific research that is being conducted carefully is showing how big the differences between eCigarettes and tobacco cigarettes really is.
If you can keep these things in mind, and really try to get at the information from unbiased (or at least less biased) sources, all of this will make a lot more sense.
This really doesn’t cover everything that I have to say on this subject, but it’s a good starting point. I welcome feedback from vapers and non-vapers alike to get some of the points, ideas, and thoughts out in the open. Use the comments section below, or feel free to use the contact form on the menu above.