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We've written about the Food and Drug Administration's eye on e-cigarettes before, but with new advertisements hitting television, and toting the benefits of "vaping" over puffing, calls for the FDA to step in and regulate the industry are reaching a fever pitch.
USA Today describes one ad, where Stephen Doroff states, "It's time we take our freedom back," before listing places where men might like to smoke, but aren't allowed to, such as basketball games or at a bar. Another ad, starring Jenny McCarthy extols the virtues of e-cigarettes to the single woman, including not stinking up your hair, and not turning your teeth yellow:
Like Tobacco, But Not
It may seem natural for the FDA to regulate e-cigarettes. After all, they hold the power to regulate actual cigarettes, as well as other tobacco products, and the nicotine in these mini-vaporizers is derived from tobacco. The FDA also regulates smoking cessation aids, such as nicotine gum. These, arguably, fall into the same territory, though the novelty does present, at least some room for argument.
Right now, in many states, children can buy these. They are also sold on the Internet and advertised on television. Many companies make them in flavors like Cherry, Vanilla, and Cookies and Cream. All of thee above are prohibited for regular cigarettes, and all of those restrictions will likely be considered for e-cigarettes as well.
Size of the Problem
According to USA Today, six percent of U.S. adults admitted to trying e-cigarettess in 2011, and twenty-one percent of adult smokers gave them a puff (or vape), twice the rate from the previous year. An analyst cited by USA Today pegged the current market at $1.7 billion in sales by the end of 2013, with the market possibly eclipsing $10 billion by 2017.
Then again, all of this assumes that there is a problem. Though some studies show harmful effects from usage, another study cited by USA Today showed that 67 percent of smokers surveyed smoked less after using e-cigs and 31 percent stopped smoking altogether.
Effect of Regulation
We're not sure what the effect will be on individual usage (taxation seems to have helped tamp down regular cigarette usage), but on an industry-wide level, many expect a forthcoming internet sales ban, and if that happens, it should consolidate the industry from hundreds of small manufacturers, to those with a retail presence (Big Tobacco).