Is the Debate about Electronic Cigarettes all About the Money?
While the first electronic cigarette can be traced back to the 1960s it is only really since the turn-of-the-century that we have seen any significant sales traction. The industry has gone from a relative niche market to one which is expected to turnover in excess of $2 billion in the US alone during 2014. Indeed there are suggestions that the electronic cigarette market could eventually overtake its tobacco cigarette counterpart although there are many hurdles and obstacles to overcome before that. However, there is one burning question, is the debate about electronic cigarettes all about the money?
The political arena saw electronic cigarettes as a nonentity prior to the turn-of-the-century with no visible threat to the tobacco cigarette market and the enormous tax income it provides for governments and states around the world. The situation has changed dramatically over the last few years with politicians, regulators, medical professionals and the general public all having their say on the future direction of the industry. So, who should make the final decision and is the current discussion a balanced debate?
Health and finance
Critics would suggest that politicians are obstructing the development and growth of the electronic cigarette market as much as possible simply as a means of extracting as much long-term tax income as they can. When you bear in mind the billions upon billions of dollars that tobacco taxes have raised for US governments across the years, there will obviously be a financial angle when considering the overall picture. However, we must not forget that politicians also have an obligation to protect the health of the general public and all parties agree that there is a requirement for further trials to clarify any long-term health implications.
That said, even the most ardent of critics readily admit that electronic cigarettes are at worst “less harmful” than their tobacco cigarette counterparts with some even going as far as to suggest that they are 99% less harmful. It is also worth noting that all of the elements of an electronic cigarette are already regulated individually in their own right thereby prompting the question, what is the problem?
Politicians have been hitting the headlines with regards to electronic cigarettes, highlighting such issues as sales to minors, fruit flavoured eliquids as well as the potential to introduce electronic cigarette taxes to cover “additional healthcare costs”. The main problem is that the industry has grown so quickly, surprising many people, that regulators such as the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) have been left behind thereby creating a regulatory vacuum. There is a need to create a long-term structure for the electronic cigarette industry as soon as possible and to ensure that companies operating at the lower quality end of the market are stubbed out ASAP.
The truth of the matter is that all parties such as politicians, electronic cigarette manufacturers, regulators, health officials, the vaping community and the general public have a part to play in moulding the future structure of the industry. It is not down to politicians or regulators and while there will be financial implications, whether we agree with them or not, the future structure of the industry should reflect all of the elements mentioned above.
At this moment in time we have two very distinct parties at different ends of the electronic cigarette spectrum. To the left we have politicians, adamant that their ongoing growth should be halted and consideration given to electronic cigarette taxes.While on the right we have the vaping community adamant that the industry should be allowed to grow naturally amid concerns that long-term benefits, compared to tobacco cigarettes, could be diluted or at worst lost. There are also many parties in between, offering different angles and different opinions, all of which should be taken into consideration.
It is not solely down to the politicians!
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For further information about electronic cigarettes please visit the OK Electronic Cigarettes website.