Since the e-cigarette is relatively new in the tobacco users’ choices, many of the already enacted laws are not applicable.
Since the e cigarette is covered neither in the scope nor in the definitions in the law. Again, this can easily change by a court decision, which as yet has not occurred.
Another element of law which helps the e cigarette manufacturer is the tobacco industry’s successfully prevention of several types of tobacco use not being legislated against. Specifically, the FDA has exercised minimal control of pipe tobacco, cigars (other than small cigars), chewing tobacco, snuff, and the liquid form tobacco used in the hookah.
One may speculate on the reasons for such an apparent oversight. Cigarette smoking has received much negative notoriety. The proportion of the population that uses cigarettes significantly outnumbers the other forms of tobacco usage. With limited budgets, the government has to focus on the “most bang for the buck” approach.
How does all this affect the e cigarette? The answer is “only time will tell.” That is not avoiding the issues, but being aware of the changing goals of governmental agencies.
Office of the Surgeon General On The E Cigarette
One of the more significant departments that have affected the government’s public face on the tobacco industry is the Office of the Surgeon General, part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health in the Office of the Secretary, U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. Theoretically, the purpose of this office is to provide the American public the best scientific information available on how to improve their health and reduce the risk of injury and illness (http://www.surgeongeneral.gov). Historically, the Surgeon General has been in the forefront of influencing controls on tobacco industry, cigarettes in particular.
The advantage that the e cigarette industry has is, as it is relatively new in the market place, that scientific research and information is not available. The manufacturers of e cigarettes are not currently faced with overcoming any attack by the Office of the Surgeon General. How long this silence remains is an unknown. Why? One does not know what funding the Office of the Surgeon General is providing on obtaining scientific research on the e cigarette. Research takes time, not only for the research to be done, but the information must be gathered over substantial time, using various factors. One important factor which will impede any study is finding the right subjects, as any study on e cigarettes must not include anyone who smoked cigarettes, or possibly used tobacco in any form before using e-cigarettes.
Unavailability of Research Information On The E cigarette
Given that virtually everyone who uses the e cigarette have used tobacco products previously, research on the long-term, even short-term, effects of e-cigarettes on its users will be a hard to overcome obstacle.
Can the FDA force legislation on controlling the e cigarette absent scientific research and information to justify said control. Undoubtedly the FDA will try.
The unknown in this scenario is what testing and research the manufacturers of e-cigarettes have done. If such research has been done, the government will obtain it. If such research is currently being done, the government will somehow try to involve itself. However, where the research is being done might mitigate the Office of the Surgeon General obtaining what information the e cigarette manufacturer has or will have.
Another avenue that the Surgeon General has is to use information on similar devices, if similar devices exist, and the research would have to show a significant relationship between the e cigarette and the similar device.
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