A scientist has suggested that the American electronic cigarette industry market e-cigarettes as nutritional supplements to avoid onerous and potentially industry-killing regulation.
Dr Josh Bloom of the American Council on Science and Health, an organisation which strongly supports electronic cigarettes as an alternative to smoking, states:
Perhaps they [electronic cigarette companies] should try marketing them as nutritional supplements since the FDA lacks regulatory oversight in that area, as long as they don’t claim to be treating or preventing disease. They could probably get away with saying their product ‘supports healthy breathing,’ since this is the type of hypocritical language that the supplement industry is allowed to hide behind.
In addition, Dr. Gilbert Ross, the Medical Director of ACSH, reiterated his organisation’s support for e-cigarettes, stating:
…I don’t think there’s anything dangerous about e-cigarettes. The only test purporting to find toxic diethylene glycol (see diethylene glycol in electronic cigarettes) in the vapors was done last year by the FDA, but all other tests failed to find that substance in e-cigarette vapor. The artificial vapor of the e-cigarettes that I’m familiar with is composed of polyethylene glycol, which is perfectly safe. It seems so obvious to me that e-cigarettes are safer — they all lack the tobacco combustion products that are the actual dangerous constituents of traditional cigarettes.
The marketing of electronic cigarettes has been restricted both in the UK and in the US. Neither country allows electronic cigarettes to be marketed as a smoking cessation aid, although to be fair no long term electronic cigarette studies have shown that it can aid cessation.
In addition, and in contrast to the UK, the US does not allow the device to be marketed as a healthier alternative to smoking.
It doesn’t seem to make much difference to consumers. From speaking to customers and running customer surveys, we know they have a very clear idea of why they are buying the electronic cigarette, whatever the marketing. Some buy it as a healthy alternative – others to quit smoking.
And despite the US campaign funded by pharmaceutical companies fearful of losing their monopoly of alternative nicotine products, the electronic cigarette is growing in popularity. In the internet age it seems impossible to stop the free flow of information, no matter how powerful and well-funded the forces against it are.
ACSH have pointed out to us that the second quote is by Dr. Gilbert Ross, the Medical Director of ACSH, not by Dr Josh Bloom. This has now been corrected.