The E-Cigarette Industry Achieves Regulatory Victory in Central Europe

Members of the European Parliament (MEP) in Strasbourg, France declined to impose stringent regulations on the electronic cigarette industry this week.  Although the law isn’t final, as it still has to be reviewed by other branches of the European Union’s government.  This is positive news for electronic cigarette business owners and advocates worldwide. While e-cigarettes will not be categorized as medicinal products, sold only in pharmacy’s, under this new regulation, e-cigarette companies in Europe will face stricter advertising regulations, which may prevent millions of people from learning about e-cigs as a reliable, smoke-free alternative.

Various groups spent millions of dollars trying to persuade the MEP to regulate e-cigarettes as nicotine replacement therapies (i.e. patches and gum), but those efforts were rejected. According to The Independent, a popular UK media outlet, the lack of tobacco in e-cigs is one of the main reasons the proposal did not move forward: “Cancer Research has proven that the lack of tobacco in e-cigarettes means they are ‘almost certainly’ a much safer way of getting a nicotine hit than smoking cigarettes.”

The MEP ruling resulted in a successful outcome for the e-cigarette industry because European citizens contacted their elected officials and let their voices be heard. Chris Davies, a Liberal Democrat MEP, told The Verge, another prominent UK media outlet, “E-cigs can be a game changer. Hundreds of former smokers have written to tell me that they have helped them give up cigarettes when nothing else worked. They are successful because they are not medicines but products that smokers enjoy using as an alternative to cigarettes.” Using this strategy in the U.S., SFATA is working to rally e-cigarette advocates to inform and educate elected officials.

Despite this apparent win, there are still many battles to fight in Europe and in the U.S. Individual nations in Central and Eastern Europe are free to impose tighter e-cig regulations, but must meet minimum standards set by the EU. Although the U.S. government is not looking to classify and regulate e-cigs as medicinal products, there is quite a lot of pressure to regulate them as if they were traditional cigarettes, which would be detrimental to the industry and consumers alike.

SFATA hopes U.S. regulators will look at Europe’s regulatory decision on e-cigarettes and use the same strategy for the U.S. It is inappropriate to categorize e-cigarettes as medicine or traditional cigarettes because this innovative technology is neither. E-cigarettes are a separate entity and deserve separate and sensible regulation. As a tobacco-free adult alternative, e-cigarettes are a useful option to people worldwide.

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Why Electronic Cigarette Education is Important for the Survival of the Industry

As millions of people worldwide continue to switch to electronic cigarettes as an alternative to traditional smoking, it is the responsibility of e-cigarette business owners, manufacturers and sellers to educate themselves on the best ways to produce and sell reliable e-cig products as well as to educate their customers. In fact, while still largely unregulated, the domestic market grows, further reinforcing the need for e-cig business owners to take the initiative to responsibly market and distribute their products to the masses. “At the Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA), a non-profit trade association dedicating to helping and informing e-cig business owners, we provide guidelines for members so that the industry operates in a sensible manner,” said Cynthia Cabrera, SFATA Executive Director. “Our organization encourages e-cig brands to implement marketing campaigns geared solely toward adults respecting established smoking bans and encouraging the production of reliable and innovative products that consumers can rely on.”

While learning about e-cigarettes, it is important to understand how vastly different they are from traditional cigarettes. In fact, although they look similar and almost possess the same name, they are extremely different. One is an electronic device that produces no combustion, no smoke and instead releases almost odor-free vaporized liquid. In addition, e-cigarettes do not contain combustible tobacco or the nearly 4,000 toxic chemicals found in traditional cigarettes that are known to cause serious health risks.

Most consumers are using e-cigs as a nicotine delivery system, but an often-overlooked fact is that most brands offer e-cigarettes with zero nicotine, containing .primarily food flavorings, vegetable glycerin and/or propylene glycol – similar to hookah machines.

With the popularity of e-cigarettes, more e-cig brands have entered the market and products are readily available at local retail shops and gas stations across America. But with more popularity, comes more scrutiny and the uninformed.  Lou Maiellano, e-cigarette expert and advocate, suggests why and how business owners can best educate themselves on the industry and then turn around and promote that same education to others. “…I believe that it is critical for retailers and distributors to consider the challenges facing the [e-cig] product and product category and find ways to get smarter and to get involved,” Maiellano said.

Consumers and business owners should understand that the e-cigarette industry is complex and fairly new. When you hear someone say that e-cigarettes are just as harmful or bad for users as traditional cigarettes, direct them to the scientific research. “A study was just released by Professor Igor Burstyn of Drexel University School of Public Health, confirming that chemicals in e-cigarettes pose no health concern for users or bystanders,” Maiellano noted.  “This is the first definitive study of e-cigarette chemistry and it finds that there are no health concerns based on generally accepted exposure limits.”

The study conducted by Professor Igor Burstyn revealed the levels of contaminants e-cigarette users are exposed to are insignificant, far below levels that would pose any health risk.  With this in mind, it is important that e-cigarette advocates position this information in the best manner possible. “No one has to make health claims, everyone should focus on the amazing research readily available” Cabrera explained.

Overall, it is important to educate the public using facts and scientific research; if electronic cigarette users and sellers do just that, the electronic cigarette industry will have a much better chance to thrive and exist responsibly.

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