I have mixed feelings about e-cigarettes, or vapes, as they’re known. When I walk by the kiosk in the mall selling them, the young woman hawking the controversial answer to conventional cigarettes, sometimes is sampling the wares. It’s still weird for me to watch.
While I take a skeptical view to the FDA regulating anything, I do admit to a sense of relief when I read that that government agency was going to hand down some regulations about the burgeoning anti-tobacco industry. Those regulations include banning the sale of the product to anyone under 18 years of age, possibly labeling the health risks on packaging and banning free samples.
The way this works is there’s now a 75-day public comment period. After that and once the proposed rules are finalized, manufacturers will have 24 months to submit an application to allow their products to remain on the market or submit a new product application.
Some of the controversy is about the health impact of e-cigarettes. They deliver nicotine into the system as a vapor. First viewed as a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes, they have fallen out of favor because of their popularity with teens. Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the percentage of high school students who reported ever using an e-cigarette more than doubled in one year, from 4.7 percent to 10 percent between 2011 and 2012.
Being hooked on nicotine, regardless of the delivery method, is the larger health concern here. And as any cigarette smoker or former smoker will tell you, it’s an incrediblely difficult habit to kick.