Tobacco Asia

Volume 18, Number 4

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18 tobaccoasia By Nattira Medvedeva With e-cigarettes becoming increasingly popular among consumers, the electronic cigarette market developing at breakneck speed and given the fast-growing number of companies offering a vast variety of products to answer this snowballing demand, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the explosion in e-cigarette popularity caught nearly everyone by surprise. Industry leaders, public health advocates, researchers, and governments have been struggling to reach a decision whether or not e-cigarettes warrant regulations, and if yes, how best to establish and implement them. What is becoming very apparent, however, is that electronic cigarettes are treated very differently in various parts of the world. The E-Cigarette Conundrum Towards the end of Q2 2014, more than 50 re- searchers, specialists, and scientists sent a letter to the World Health Organization (WHO) urging it not to regulate e-cigarettes as severely as tradi- tional cigarettes. Their plea was based on their re- search findings, published in the July 2014 issue of Addiction journal, that e-cigarettes help people quit smoking better than several other methods such as the nicotine patch or the nicotine gum, thus mak- ing it possible to save millions of lives. Surveying 6,000 smokers who tried to quit smoking in the previous year, the researchers found that the larg- est number of participants who were able to quit smoking (20%) were those who used e-cigarettes, followed by those who quit without help (15%) and those who quit by using a nicotine patch or gum (10%). The European Parliament was the first to ac- tually approve regulations on e-cigarettes in Feb- ruary 2014, a move that was both heralded as a benchmark for standards around the world and condemned as a strike against public health. The reason for this could be traced back to the seem- ingly-simple-yet-so-complicated matter of wheth- er e-cigarettes should be categorized as a tobacco product or a medicinal health product that is effec- tive in helping smokers quit. Ray Story, c.e.o. of the Tobacco Vapor Elec- tronic Cigarette Association (TVECA), who has worked closely with government offices in the US and Europe on regulating e-cigarettes, said, "I see the e-cigarette, through the process of a few more years, to be considered a risk-reduction or a less harmful product to conventional cigarettes. How- ever, it will fall within the tobacco category due to the fact that nicotine is derived from the stem or leaf of a tobacco plant. Nicotine is an addictive substance just like caffeine is, so therefore there is no other entity that can adequately control, sell, and or bring this product to the public. It will have Will e-cigarettes be judged as a different product with different legislation, or will they be treated the same as cigarettes and other highly regulated and taxed tobacco products?

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