Though the ongoing battle for a ban on electronic cigarettes has undeniably seen its ups and downs over the past few years, the popularity of the products in question continues to rise. While the FDA opts to put forth a bottomless amount of effort and funding into removing e-cigs from the market, the organization seems to have placed other important issues on a permanent back burner.
Banned Food and Nicotine: An Unlikely Comparison?
The typical American diet is frequently associated with unhealthy choices and nutrition-related diseases, including everything from type 2 diabetes and obesity to high blood pressure and heart disease. Though organizations like the FDA can’t control what or how much we eat on a daily basis, they are capable of keeping a number of unsafe foods out of our grocery stores and pantries. If this is the case, then why haven’t the following unsafe products, forbidden in other countries, been banned in the United States?
- Arsenic – Entirely disallowed in the European Union, arsenic is a common additive in chicken and is used to give the flesh a desirably pink color. As is the case with the chemicals in tobacco cigarettes, it is a well-known fact that arsenic is poison.
- Potassium bromate – Used to bake bread products more rapidly, this additive is associated with certain types of cancer and damage to the kidneys. Its use is restricted in Canada, China and all of Europe.
- Artificial dyes – Found in nearly every processed food on the market, artificial dyes of every conceivable color combination have been shown to lead to the deterioration of nerve cells throughout the human central nervous system.
- BHA and BHT – These common preservatives can be found in nearly any type of food or drink that is stored in treated plastic. Even many baby bottle manufacturers have made the move to avoid it in their products. Japan, the United Kingdom and others in Europe have banned its use. Editor’s note: White Cloud’s plastic products are BPA-free
Alongside these unanswered questions regarding food regulations in our country is the concern surrounding electronic cigarettes and their potential effects. If a company were to promise outright that its product will help consumers stop smoking, the FDA might then have a reason to view and regulate e cigarettes as medicine. As of now, this is not the case. It all comes down to marketing and advertisement, or how the products are presented to consumers. The majority of electronic cigarette companies understand business strategy well enough to avoid touting their products as “smoking cessation devices.” The FDA has not accepted any of the clinical trials conducted by various public health organizations regarding the degree of efficacy to which these products help smokers quit using tobacco, e-cig manufacturers simply call them what they are: electronic nicotine delivery systems or, in simpler terms, an alternative to regular cigarettes.
Unfortunately, the FDA prefers the “quit or die” method of smoking cessation. Choosing instead to take electronic cigarettes off the shelves rather than conducting the tests needed to prove their point. Considering the fact that the aforementioned food products, banned elsewhere in the world for their negative effects, manage to evade scrutiny in the U.S., one might come to the conclusion that the FDA is acting on more surreptitious motives.
Related: E-Cigs vs. FDA-Approved Drugs
A Case of Mismanaged Priorities
Through an obvious pursuit of e-cig regulation, the FDA is effectively limiting the number of options available to cigarette smokers who might otherwise quit. The fact that the FDA possesses the authority necessary to control or ban tobacco cigarettes, a known cause of death, but continues to allow their distribution is perplexing. Even more confounding, however, is the level of intolerance the FDA apparently harbors regarding the sale and use of electronic cigarettes. They state that, because e-cigarettes have not yet been proven safe, they should not be made available to the public. Tobacco cigarettes, however, have been irrefutably proven unsafe and are still on the shelves of every corner store in the country.
The fact that the FDA and other organizations, ostensibly concerned with the health of the population, are more willing to spend millions of tax dollars in an effort to ban vapor products than to uncover the truth has repeatedly disappointed the vaping community and those who support it. Though legal issues regarding the regulation of vapor products under the Tobacco Control Act continue to evolve, the general consensus seems to remain the same. Smokers who have successfully made the switch to electronic cigarettes plan to keep defending their right to a tobacco alternative and spreading the word among family, friends and coworkers. With enough support from informed, intelligent consumers, perhaps even the FDA will take notice.