E Cigarette News Round Up – 1st December 2011

Missoula Montana E-Cig Ban

Montana has become the second state in the United States to ban the use of e-cigarettes among high school students.

The Missoula public school district has recently come out with a policy banning the use of the popular smoking cessation device on their campuses. Based on a recommendation issued last year from Montana’s Office of Public instruction, the ban prevents not only students, but teachers, and staff from using the devices on school property or at school sponsored functions. Missoula is currently the only school district in Western Montana implementing such a ban.

The ban does not target other smoking cessation methods, such as nicotine patches or gum, and contains language that aims the ban primarily at “nicotine delivery devices” — which may or may not include paper and tobacco cigarettes. The ban cites the oft stated objection that e-cigarettes serve as a “gateway” drug to nicotine use and traditional tobacco smoking, a charge that has little basis in fact. Another apparent assumption is that e-cig manufacturers target the youth market in particular with their products, which from this reporter’s standpoint does not stand the test of truth.

Even though a federal court stopped the FDA from banning the sale of e-cigarettes last year, the electronic cigarette still faces increasing actions such as that of the Missoula School District trying to regulate and ban their use from specific locales. If half as much effort was put into banning traditional Big Tobacco Products, the need for smoking cessation devices might fall accordingly.

FDA to Regulate E-Cigs as Tobacco Products Not Medical Devices

In related news, the United States Food and Drug Administration has gone forward with a determination that e cigarettes will be regulated not as medical devices for smoking cessation but as a tobacco product.

Generally speaking this is a positive development for e-Cigarettes. The establishment as a medical device for smoking cessation subjects the electronic cigarette to much more stringent control than does a classification as a tobacco product. Tobacco is really little regulated in the USA—in spite of the anti-smoking fervor of recent decades—a testament to the lobbying power of Big Tobacco. Medical devices and drugs are subjected to much more strict regulation and control.

When marketed as such a medical/smoking cessation device, the e-Cig CAN still fall under those harsher rules, however. And even though the device does not fall under the medical aid banner, the Surgeon General will now include e-cigarettes in the Office’s ongoing campaign against tobacco and smoking.

In the end, the ongoing controversy about e-cigarettes will not be going away any time soon. Until enough clinical studies are published supporting the fact that their use is significantly free of chemical hazards (a popular criticism is that the vapor from e-cigs has unknown and potentially just as harmful properties as do paper and tobacco cigarettes), and that the devices are a major success in weaning smokers away from traditional cigarettes, the regulatory pressure can be expected to continue.

E-Lites e-Cigs feature in Popular British Soap Opera

The long running British soap opera, The Eastenders has taken a step into the modern age with its recent introduction of the practice of vaping into its story lines. Earlier this year the soap introduced the practice briefly, the E-lites brand of electronic cigarette has just this month re-entered the television show. A popular character, Roxy is undergoing a custody battle for her child, and the vaper turns out to be the slightly disreputable lawyer representing her in court. The new character lights up in a Café in a recent episode—which neatly addresses the ability of the electronic cigarette to be used in formerly banned locations.

Tobacco smoking has been discouraged or banned for the last couple of decades in most television and many film productions, following the general societal fall from grace that Big Tobacco and its products have occasioned in the last 20 years. That the use of e-cigs is being openly introduced into a popular television show may be seen as a positive step forward, although one expects that charges of making vaping more attractive to youth will also follow. However the more visible the use of e-cigs becomes in popular culture, the more opportunity there is to educate the public on the benefits of the device over traditional tobacco products.