Should E-Cigarettes Be Regulated?
To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDEdspace and end it with #DoNowECigs
For more info on how to use Twitter, click here.
Should e-cigarettes be regulated in the same way as traditional tobacco and conventional combustion cigarettes? Why or why not?
Nowadays, most people are aware of the health dangers inherent in cigarettes, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set stringent rules on tobacco manufacture, distribution, and marketing. These include restrictions on the color and design of packaging and advertisements, prominent warning labels, and promotion restrictions. However a new player has entered the field claiming to be a harmless alternative to regular combustion cigarettes: electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs. Some manufacturers claim that e-cigs provide the same essential functions as a tobacco cigarette, but with fewer toxins. The director of science and trends at the American Cancer Society has said there is a “likelihood that e-cigs would prove considerably less harmful than traditional smokes, at least in the short term.” Yet e-cigs contain animal carcinogens, addictive components, and some were found to contain toxic chemicals used in antifreeze.
E-cigs were patented in 1963, introduced to the U.S. market in 2007, and have yet to be regulated by the FDA although they received the authority to regulate e-smokers in 2011. At this point, no governmental agency is controlling or regulating e-cigs, and the lack of research creates a difficult dilemma for those looking into this product, be they high schoolers, parents, or long-time cigarette addicts. According to some studies and first hand accounts from tobacco addicts, e-cigs allegedly provide a less-harmful alternative to traditional tobacco, and can potentially wean millions of long-term smokers (similar to a nicotine patch). Other studies claim there is no correlation, and to advertise as much is terribly misleading.
E-cigs seem to be channeling the same glamorizing advertising campaigns cigarette companies used in the mid-1900s, and their targeted marketing has attracted 1.78 million adolescents across the nation to “vape” (puff on an e-cig), potentially providing a gateway to nicotine addiction. In this new frontier of electronic cigarettes, advocates claim e-cigs are a much safer alternative to tobacco, while the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Tom Frieden, expounds that e-cigarette companies are engaging in disgraceful tactics meant “to get another generation of American kids addicted to nicotine.”
Should the government regulate e-cigs in the same manner as traditional tobacco products? Should we regulate now, and assume that e-cigs are harmful until data proves otherwise? Or should we wait for more studies, in the meantime potentially endangering the lives and decisions of millions of youth? What other information do you need before deciding for yourself?
Discovery News video Are E-Cigarettes Safer?
Smokers are using e-cigarettes to wean themselves off of traditional cigarettes, but are they any safer?
To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDedspace and end it with #DoNowECigs
For more info on how to use Twitter, click here.
We encourage students to reply to other people’s tweets to foster more of a conversation. Also, if students tweet their personal opinions, ask them to support their ideas with links to interesting/credible articles online (adding a nice research component) or retweet other people’s ideas that they agree/disagree/find amusing. We also value student-produced media linked to their tweets. You can visit our video tutorials that showcase how to use several web-based production tools. Of course, do as you can… and any contribution is most welcomed.
Nature article Regulation Stacks Up for E-Cigarettes
View an infographic that shows how e-cigarettes work, and read about the debate over the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes and their regulation.
NPR audio story E-Cigarette Critics Worry New Ads Will Make ‘Vaping’ Cool For Kids
Hear about the advertising campaigns being used by e-cigarette makers and how public health advocates say these images lure kids to use e-cig products.
Committee on Energy and Commerce interactive E-Cigarette Flashbacks
This interactive takes a look at the current e-cig advertising campaigns and the uncanny similarities to traditional tobacco marketing in the early- to mid-1900s.
KQED Do Now Science is a monthly activity in collaboration with California Academy of Sciences. The Science Do Now is posted every second Tuesday of the month.
This post was contributed by youth from the Spotlight team within The California Academy of Sciences’ Careers in Science Intern Program. CiS is a multi-year, year-round work-based youth development program for young people from groups typically under-represented in the sciences.