The electronic cigarette, smokeless cigarette, E-Cig or electric cigarette (take your pick!) is an electrical device that is powered by a small, lithium ion battery that is cleverly designed as the same shape and size of the body of a regular cigarette, and simulates the act of smoking.
The electronic cigarette was invented by Hon Lik, in Beijing, China, in 2003. Lik himself had suffered with a severe respiratory infection, and his father was dying of lung cancer, and these two circumstances prompted Lik to invent this alternative to the traditional cigarette, without tar or many of the toxic chemicals found in traditional tobacco cigarettes.
The electronic cigarette was marketed in 2004 by the Golden Dragon Group, who changed the electronic cigarette name to Ruyan, meaning “almost like smoke”.
The Growth Of The Electronic Cigarette
Through the Internet, the idea of the electronic cigarette quickly caught on, and companies around the world began to produce and market their own brand of the electronic cigarette. A businessman in the UK brought the electronic cigarette to the western market, calling his brand the “Electro Fag”, which became quite popular in Europe, in fact, so popular that the English Parliament ruled that the electronic cigarette become legal in places where traditional cigarettes were banned.
In 2006, electronic cigarettes made their way to the U.S., and many brands were sold on the Internet, in shopping malls, at tobacco shops, and other retail establishments.
In 2008, the World Health Organization proclaimed e-cigs were not a smoking cessation aid, and demanded companies to remove any suggestions on their packaging that the suggested the World Health Organization considered them to be safe.
In early 2009, a study by Health New Zealand determined the electronic cigarette to be “a safe alternative to smoking”.
In March of 2009, the FDA notified Smoking Everywhere that their shipments to the United States were banned, stating that the e-cigarette appeared to be a “combination drug-device” that requires approval and registration with the FDA.
In April, 2009, Smoking Everywhere filed a federal complaint against the FDA, in respect to their attempt to ban the electronic cigarette. Smoking Everywhere contends the FDA has no authority to regulate electronic cigarettes because Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court have explicitly determined that the use of nicotine through hazardous tobacco products to be outside the jurisdiction of the FDCA (Food Drug and Cosmetic Act), and also, the FDA has no authority under the FDCA, or any other regulation with respect to e-cigs, because they are not drugs, drug device combinations, or drug delivery systems under 21 U.S.C. § 321(g), making the FDA’s ban of the shipments of electronic cigarettes to the United States unlawful. Njoy Company joined Smoking Everywhere in the complaint against the FDA.
In May 2009, the Electronic Cigarette Association, headquartered in Washington, D.C., was founded. The ECA is made up of electronic cigarette producers, distributors and retailers, to speak on behalf of the electronic cigarette industry.
In May, 2009, the FDA tested Smoking Everywhere and the Njoy electronic cigarette and found trace amounts of cancer-causing nitrosamines, and 1 cartridge out of 18 tested contained ethylene glycol.
In June of 2009, President Obama signed into law the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, giving the FDA power to regulate the tobacco industry. This act does not ban nicotine or cigarettes, but the act ”prohibits a cigarette or any of its components from containing as a constituent or additive any artificial or natural flavor (other than tobacco or menthol) or any herb or spice (including strawberry, grape, orange, clove, cinnamon, and vanilla)”, due to the appeal of such flavors to children. Additionally, this act states that new cigarette products must meet FDA pre-market standards, which could have a possible effect on the e-cigarette. The FDA then filed a supplemental brief to the Smoking Everywhere lawsuit, claiming they have authority over e-cigarettes, and still insisted on labeling the electronic cigarette as a drug device combination. The FDA then issued a press release stating that electronic cigarette lacks the appropriate health warnings, that they may be marketed to young people, and that they contain toxic chemicals.
In July, 2009 the FDA study of the electronic cigarette conducted in May 2009 is reviewed by Exponent, Inc., a scientific consulting firm. They conclude the FDA’s claims of potential adverse health effects were not supported by the study.
In September 2009, California tries to pass a bill banning the sale of electronic cigarettes, which was vetoed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, stating “if adults want to purchase and consume these products with an understanding of the associated health risks, they should be able to do so unless and until federal law changes the legal status of these tobacco products.”
A survey conducted in 2009 by electronic cigarette users found that users of the electronic cigarette perceived fewer health problems, when compared to traditional cigarettes. They noticed less coughing, improved sense of taste and smell, and improved ability to exercise.
On December 7, 2010, the appeals court ruled against the FDA, ruling the FDA can only regulate electronic cigarettes as tobacco products, and thus cannot block their import. The judges ruled electronic cigarettes would only be subject to drug legislation if they are marketed for therapeutic use. The manufacturers of electronic cigarettes had proven that their products were targeted at smokers and the electric cigarette was not designed as an aid to stop smoking. Laws concerning the use of electronic cigarettes in other countries vary.
Summary Of The Electronic Cigarette In Recent Years
Although concerns about the safety of the electronic cigarette have been raised, many organizations support the electronic cigarette.
The American Association of Public Health Physicians (AAPHP) states, “A cigarette smoker can reduce his or her risk of future tobacco-related death by 98% or better by switching to a low risk smokeless tobacco product.” They have suggested the FDA reclassify the e-cigarette as a tobacco product, rather than a drug-device combination, and have stated the effects of second-hand smoke will be greatly reduced.
Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley concluded that electronic cigarettes had great potential for reducing the mortality rate related to smoking.
From endsmoking.org.nz website, May, 2011: Dr Marewa Glover, director of the Auckland Centre for Tobacco Control Research discusses the electronic cigarette. She states, “People are using them to switch off from smoking and – why not? I would like to see more smokers to have more access to things like this – alternatives that are safer. We’ve got to get people off the cigarette smoke.” Also, on the same website, a statement from the Ministry of Health reads, “As the e-cigarette delivers only nicotine in a mist of propylene glycol, without the other 4,000 or so other chemicals in tobacco smoke, it is far safer than smoking.”
Also, it’s interesting to note that many smokers state they have been helped by using the electronic cigarette (even though they aren’t designed as an aid to quit smoking), which undoubtedly are safer than regular tobacco cigarettes, loaded with cancer-causing carcinogens.
Maybe there will always be opposition to a product like this, who knows? One thing is for sure though, the electronic cigarette is something that has the potential to change the lives of millions of people worldwide.