Electronic cigarette debates often become heated because both sides feel very passionately. The anti-smoking groups claim this is too much like smoking and say “we just don’t know what’s in it”. The e-smoker says “If I can smoke tobacco, why can’t I vape an e-cigarette? I can choose what is best for me.” Considering the number of deaths tobacco smoking causes, it is no wonder everyone is so passionate.
In order to objectively look at the electronic cigarette, let’s remove the passion from the debate. Let’s consider a product that doesn’t kill people like burning tobacco. Let’s look at the soft drink business.
Soda A is made up of ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ (A being some of the worst chemicals imaginable and Z being the minor end of the scale) and has been on the market for a very long time. It contains caffeine.
Soda B just enters the market. It is made up of XYZ and also contains caffeine.
Details surrounding the argument:
Detail 1: Some public health organizations claim they don’t know if Soda B is safe, but want proof that it helps people quit drinking soda completely.
Detail 2: Some sellers of Soda B sell it as soda that you can drink just like Soda A.
Detail 3: Other sellers of Soda B claim it is healthy and that it does help you quit drinking soda.
Detail 4: Although there are no long term studies, to date Soda B has not harmed anyone.
Detail 5: There is proof Soda A can be harmful.
Based on this information, which route should the governmental agency responsible for regulating such products take?
A) Ban Soda B completely, because we don’t like people drinking soda
B) Ban Soda B until a pharmaceutical company proves it does help you quit drinking soda then give them, and only them, the right to sell it
C) Leave Soda B on the market, but crack down on those companies making unproven claims and also provide Soda B guidance to ensure quality control standards are being met.
Seems simple enough.
Why would a government agency have the right to pull a product off the market that has not harmed anyone while leaving one that has, on the market? Or why would a government agency want to determine intended use (to quit drinking soda), for all products containing caffeine, when other sodas on the market are given a free pass? And why would this government agency be in the right to remove something from the free market and hand it off to the pharmaceutical industry?
We don’t know the answer, but one other detail might be helpful:
Detail 6: The government agency for regulating such products, gets its funding from the pharmaceutical companies through an application process so that these companies can release their products on to the market without competition.
Hmmm… Which do you think they will choose?