Editor’s Note: The complete study, “Achieving appropriate regulations for electronic cigarettes” by Daniela Saitta, Giancarlo Antonio Ferro, and Riccardo Polosa of the University of Catania, Catania, Italy, is attached here. The article’s conclusion quotes the former director of the UK’s Action on Smoking and Health stating, with respect to e-cigarettes, that “‘there is place for regulation, but it should be to create an ‘enabling framework’ for these new, much less risky, alternatives to smoking to enter the market in a way that gives consumers confidence in switching from smoking’ [Bates, 2012].” The study abstract is reprinted below.
A growing body of scientific studies show that e-cigarettes may serve as an acceptable substitute for smoking tobacco cigarettes, thereby reducing or eliminating exposure to harmful elements in smoke. The success of e-cigarettes is such that sales of these products are rapidly gaining on traditional cigarettes. The rapidly evolving phenomenon is raising concerns for the health community, pharmaceutical industry, health regulators and state governments. Obviously, these products need to be adequately regulated, primarily to protect users. Depending on the form and intended scope, certain regulatory decisions may have diverse unintended consequences on public health and may face many different challenges. Ideally, before any regulations are enacted, the regulatory body will require sufficient scientific research to verify that a problem does exist, quantify the problem, explore all potential solutions including making no change at all, determine the possible consequences of each, and then select the solution that is best for public health. Here we present an overview on the existing and deeming regulatory decisions for electronic cigarettes. We challenge them, based on the mounting scientific evidence with the ultimate goal of proposing appropriate recommendations while minimizing potential unintended consequences of ill-informed regulation.