E-cigs & “Drug Delivery” – Regulations Concerning E-cigs

The field of electronic cigarettes can get a little confusing when it comes to regulations and other related details. Anything of this nature that’s still fairly new and not yet regulated can seem to fall into a grey area. Until regulations are in place and make sense for a product bought, sold and shipped worldwide, it can be confusing.

One of the main concerns being raised is whether companies being targeted as “drug delivery services” really are or are not. Just last year it was brought into light that some e-cigs could actually be nothing more than a method of delivering refined nicotine. If this was true, then users were actually possibly being exposed to potential risk without even realizing the potential severity.

Where Some Major Concern Arises

Part of the reason for the major concern comes from the e-liquid that consumers can purchase.

  • E-liquid or e-juice is the substance used to fill or refill cartridges for these devices. This is what is vaporized during the use of an electronic cig. The liquid can include a combination of any of the following ingredients: nicotine, propylene, glycol and water. It may also include vegetable glycerin and usually contains flavoring as well.

Where the main concern comes into place is that the liquid in its formula as shipped to customers could have the potential to harm or even kill an adult depending on the level of nicotine contained. The amount of nicotine could also certainly harm small children or animals through direct contact if either were to get a hold of it. Generally it would take accidental ingestion for this to happen, but it still poses a very real threat.

This is why there is a need to regulate these devices in the same manner as tobacco products but not as a “drug delivery” service. Yet this status also means there is still no regulation over the potentially harmful e-liquid. This also caused a delay in the FDA’s ability to act on behalf of protecting the health of the public as it generally tries to do. Until something changes, the consumer still has the ability to directly purchase potentially hazardous e-juice containing potentially hazardous amounts of nicotine.

Concerns about the amounts of nicotine available for consumer consumption include:

  • Addiction
  • Abuse
  • Overdose that could be potentially fatal


Other Areas of Concern

 The reality is that a lack of regulations results in poor quality management and control. Aside from this there are still other concerns such as:

  • The concern is not just over the e-juice in which consumers have direct access to a liquid formula containing nicotine. This is also about the cartridges that consumers purchase prefilled. Although lacking the ability to harm users through direct contact as with the liquid version, the cartridges simply lack the quality control needed to be sure the label claims match the resulting product. Also there should be less variance between competing brands when it comes to the nicotine content.
  • Propylene glycol inhalation over longer time periods has not yet been studied or evaluated. Although some brands use as alternative to this substance that is thought to be better, many do not. The problem is that consumers are buying this substance and inhaling it without having the proper research and studies to back it.
  • As always the concern for attracting younger and underage users is a major one. First of all, buyers are supposed to be over the age of 18, but there is no way to verify this. Underage users around the world could easily be gaining access to products containing nicotine. The other main concern focusing on the younger market is whether or not e-cig companies have targeted this market through their flavor variations. Offering flavors such as chocolate, cherry and bubblegum raises the question of what age group the target market is for these companies.

Be Aware of Regulations

The main trick now to dealing with e-cigarettes and the related regulations is to be aware of the current standing. This even comes down to being able to use one of these devices in certain places. Keep in mind these devices are currently regulated only at a local level.

Before use in a public place, it is important to find out their individual guidelines. Also keep in mind that recent changes surrounding airline regulations will ban and prohibit the use of these devices in airports and on planes. Although they are still currently allowed to be carried on to a plane, they may not be used.

Although the ban is not fully in effect now, most airlines have taken it upon themselves to prohibit use on their planes. There is no way to predict whether these devices will get the same treatment over time as standard tobacco cigarettes or not. One thing is for sure though – regulations will certainly change a bit one way or the other.

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