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Health authorities worldwide are struggling to deal with this new way of getting a nicotine kick. E cigarettes are sold as leisure products and as such are covered by safety and quality standards wherever these exist and are implemented. But leaving them, like shoes or beds, to such catch all rules makes some regulators uneasy.

A growing pile of studies say they are far safer than normal cigarettes and at least as good at getting people to quit smoking as nicotine patches and gum. But they too are based on that addictive substance. Churned out by hundreds of suppliers using materials from China and elsewhere, the quality and labelling of e cigarettes on sale are uneven.

One worry is that young people will be lured into a dependence on nicotine they would otherwise have avoided though so far the numbers who had never smoked but have become regular users of e cigarettes seem minuscule. Another concern is that smokers who might have quit their expensive and inconvenient habit will carry on, switching to e cigs in places where smoking is banned though some studies suggest e cigs do encourage them to smoke less tobacco. A third fear is that these strangely trendy products will reglamorise smoking after years of campaigns, tax increases and restrictions have relegated it to the doghouse.

One approach is simply to tighten manufacturing and product standards, or bring in a specific set of rules rather like those governing cosmetics. But there are other considerations. Electric smokes compete with cigarettes yet do not in most places face the same restrictions, to say nothing of excise taxes. They compete with smoking cessation products yet do not usually have to secure prior approval for products or make them to pharmaceutical standards. If they are required to do either, their price will rise, variety will fall and the uptake by consumers, who are overwhelmingly smokers, will be cut.

Health authorities used to smiting nicotine are broadly unkeen on e cigarettes. The World Health Organisation does not encourage them. America s Food and Drug Administration is expected to propose restrictions in October. In 2009 it claimed that e cigarettes were unapproved medical products, but a court said they should be regulated as tobacco products instead.

The staid tobacco industry is beginning to wonder if it is reaching a Kodak moment , its version of the point at which the world s leading maker of camera film realised that consumers had gone digital, and it was too late to chase them.

To avoid that fate the tobacco firms are beginning to appropriate what Goldman Sachs, an investment bank, has called one of the world s eight most disruptive technologies. Most have taken stakes in e cigarette companies or developed their own products. They are working on other sorts of less toxic offerings too. Philip Morris International expects to market a device to heat rather than burn tobacco by 2017. Next generation products at British American Tobacco include a nicotine inhaler, for which it hopes to get regulatory approval in Britain. Whichever way consumers and regulators jump, the tobacco giants intend, unlike Kodak, to have a product to peddle.

Back in Strasbourg, the bars are buzzing as deals are struck on amendments to be proposed by October 2nd. Fans of e cigarettes hope to carve out an exemption from medical regulation for those that do not claim therapeutic properties. Most agree (including e cigarette makers) that they should not be sold to children, and that quality controls could be strengthened.

But these are details. The goal, according to Clive Bates, a former director of Action on Smoking and Health, a British campaigning group, and a tireless advocate of e cigarettes, is not to lose the chance of millions of smokers switching in whole or in part to a relatively benign alternative. The market is producing, at no cost to the taxpayer, an emerging triumph of public health, he says.

E-cigarettes: a burning question for u.s. regulators

10news – e-cigarettes under fire by critics, team 10 tests the vapor – 10news.com – team 10 investigates

NEW YORK (Reuters) At the Henley Vaporium, one of a growing number of e cigarette lounges sprouting up in New York and other U.S. cities, patrons can indulge in their choice of more than 90 flavors of nicotine infused vapor, ranging from bacon to bubble gum.

The lounge, located in Manhattan’s trendy Lower East Side, features plush seating, blaring rock music, and fresh juice and coffee. A sprawling sign on one wall lists all the carcinogens that e cigarette users avoid by kicking their smoking habits and using the e devices instead.

But the growing popularity of e cigarettes has not escaped the notice of the industry’s critics, who have stepped up calls for new regulations, including bans on their use in public places, even though the scientific evidence about exposure to their vapors remains inconclusive.

Selling for about $30 to $50 each, e cigarettes are slim, reusable, metal tubes containing nicotine laced liquids that come in exotic flavors. When users puff on the device, the nicotine is heated and releases a vapor that, unlike cigarette smoke, contains no tar, which causes cancer and other diseases.

The product, introduced in China in 2006, has become a worldwide trend at least in part because it may help smokers of regular cigarettes break the habit.

“It’s an addiction not everyone can quit cold turkey,” said Nick Edwards, 34, a Henley employee who says he kicked a 15 year cigarette habit the day he tried his first e cigarette. “E cigarettes give you a harm reduction option.”

That’s one reason why the market for e cigarettes is expected to surge, reaching $2 billion by the end of 2013 and $10 billion by 2017, according to Bonnie Herzog, an analyst at Wells Fargo Bank in New York.

Herzog said the U.S. market alone could top $1 billion this year. She predicts that by 2017 e cigarettes sales will overtake sales of regular cigarettes. That estimate does not take into account the impact of potential government regulations on sales.

E cigarettes may help smokers save money too. Edwards, for one, says he cut his $60 monthly cigarette bill in half when he switched. On top of the cost of the device, the smoking liquids cost around $10 per refill.

Despite the perceived benefits, critics worry that the addictive nicotine found in e cigarettes could lure more people into smoking and discourage others from quitting all together.

“Essentially e cigarette companies are selling nicotine addiction,” said Dr. Neil Schluger, chief scientific officer for the World Lung Foundation, which advocates for tobacco control.

“Once you have them addicted to nicotine, you can sell them all sorts of things, including conventional cigarettes,” he said. “This is a giant Trojan horse.”

In the United States, such concerns have led to calls for increased government regulation.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration currently has no regulations on e cigarettes, but it is expected to release rules this month that would extend its “tobacco product” authority over the devices. New FDA rules could follow.

“Further research is needed to assess the potential public health benefits and risks of electronic cigarettes and other novel tobacco products,” said Jenny Haliski, an FDA spokeswoman.

To be sure, no one is expecting the federal government to go as far as Brazil, Norway and Singapore, where the devices are banned outright.

In the United States, Utah, North Dakota, Arkansas and New Jersey have already passed legislation outlawing e cigarettes wherever smoking is prohibited.

Other jurisdictions are considering new rules of their own. New York City could decide as early as next week whether to prohibit e cigarette use in public places.

Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who leaves office January 1, New York was one of the first cities to ban cigarette smoking in public places, and its decision could influence Chicago and other cities that are considering a similar controls.


The outcome is crucial for tobacco companies, which are banking on the devices to make up for a sharp decline in sales of regular cigarettes in the United States. Smoking among U.S. adults dropped to 18 percent in 2012 from 24.7 percent in 1997, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Reynolds American Inc, which makes Camel cigarettes, began selling its Vuse vapor cigarettes in Colorado retail stores in July and plans on expanding nationwide by mid 2014.

Other companies have also dipped into the e cigarette business, too. Last year Lorillard Inc, maker of Newport cigarettes, acquired the best selling blu eCigs brand, while Altria Group Inc, best known for the Marlboro brand, followed suit in August with the launch of MarkTen e cigarettes.

“As society is transforming, so must the tobacco industry,” said Reynolds spokesman Richard Smith. “It’s just good business sense.”

The arrival of Big Tobacco could mean fierce competition for small e cigarette companies that do not have the resources or experience to deal with tight government regulation.

But many e cigarette companies say Big Tobacco is late to the game and has a lot to catch up on. “They are going to need to boost up their game if they want to compete,” said Christina Lopez, a saleswoman at Smokeless Image, an e cigarette shop that sells smaller brands in Hoboken, New Jersey.


To be sure, there is still a dearth of scientific evidence about the safety of e cigarettes and their effectiveness in helping smokers quit. For regulators, the big question is, are e cigarettes a treatment for would be quitters or “gateway” products to nicotine addiction?

Supporters say some e cigarettes allow users to slowly reduce their nicotine intake and wean themselves off nicotine completely. A study published in the September issue in Lancet, the British medical journal, said the e cigarettes are as effective as nicotine patches for smokers trying to quit.

Worldwide, conventional cigarette addictions kill 6 million people a year, in part because of the 250 harmful chemicals found in tobacco smoke, which can cause cancer, heart disease and stroke, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But e cigarettes may not be harmless, either. Nicotine addictions, fed by smoking, chewing tobacco or e cigarettes, can cause high blood pressure, disrupt heart rhythms and lead to obesity and diabetes.

Electronic devices that feature fruit and candy flavors are even more worrying, critics say, because they could introduce children to smoking.

E cigarette vendors say the sweet flavors make the process of quitting smoking less painful.

“By taking a sort of ‘Willy Wonka,’ fun approach to a serious matter, it breaks down people’s perceptions of e cigarettes,” said Talia Eisenberg, owner of the Henley Vaporium, referring to the fictional candy maker.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 10 percent of high school students surveyed reported using e cigarettes in 2012, up from 4.7 percent in 2011.

About 60 percent of current users are over 35 years old, and 43 percent are college educated, according to Reynolds American.

Twelve states, including New York, have passed laws preventing e cigarette sales to minors.

At a hearing on the proposed New York City ban on e cigarette use in public places, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said allowing it could glamorize all types of smoking and encourage teenagers and children to take up the cigarette habit.

“While more research is needed on electronic cigarettes, waiting to act could jeopardize the progress we have made over the last few years,” he said.

(Reporting By Marina Lopes Editing by Jilian Mincer and Tim Dobbyn)