While Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) can neither pass nor enforce laws, they can, and have, greatly influenced them.
Using federal grant monies, these entities have done, and published, research which reflected negatively on the effects of cigarettes. While e-cigarettes are technically not cigarettes, to these groups a “cigarette,” including the e-cigarette is bad, immaterial of the actuality. Not only have these organizations provided information to their members, they have publicized their works and advertised their opinions. For the e-cigarette to avoid the fate of the cigarette industry, the e-cigarette manufacturers need to exploit the differences between the e-cigarette and the cigarette.
Another way in which these groups influence the legal system is through extensive lobbying. The e-cigarette industry, while doing lobbying of its own, cannot compete on the same playing field as these groups. One of the reasons is the proliferation of them. Another reason is the “respectability” they present. By arguing as health professionals and concerned citizens, the e-cigarette community might be outclassed. But the e-cigarette industry has the opportunity to generate its own place in this arena.
These groups represent not only voters but also contributors. Since legislative bodies, heads of government, some enforcement officials, and judges are elected, while others are appointed by elected officials, by courting these persons, the e-cigarette industry has an opportunity to be heard.
One thing that the e-cigarette industry must overcome is the period of years that have proven many of these groups’ predictions and research accurate.
Another way in which these groups have been very successful is in the courts. While filing amicus curie (friends of the courts) briefs, they have been instrumental in effecting court decisions. In fact, many of these groups have a vested interested in the outcome of the law suits, as they are, or are trying to be, a financial recipients of the court awards.
However, all the things that these groups have had success with in the past, the e-cigarette industry can use to its advantage.
An e-cigarette, while it looks like a cigarette, is not a cigarette. As an alternative to, not a substitute for, cigarettes, the e-cigarette industry might be able to use some of these organizations to present the e-cigarette as a viable choice.
While the e-cigarette industry might find that some in the American Cancer Society, American
Heart Association, AMA (American Medical Association) might be available to research the e-cigarette, other organizations such as Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, ANR (Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights), ASTHO (Association for State and Territorial Health Officials) would not be inclined to even listen to the e-cigarette industry representatives.
Since the advent of e-cigarettes is recent, the manufacturers do not have historical and empirical data. However, the issue which the e-cigarette industry has is that the e-cigarette is not the same as smoking. Vapor is not smoke. In law, each word has discrete meanings.
Virtually everything that is hot produces vapor. For the e-cigarette industry, showing that the vapor is no more harmful than the vapor produced by any hot substance, and having these organizations concur, will go a long way to nip the legal issues in the bud.
Another issue, and a major legal hurdle which must be fully addressed, is the presence or absence of nicotine. To the e-cigarette community, the absence of nicotine, which many consider an additive drug, is the key to the success of their arguments.
Filed under: Legal
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