Source: E-Cigarettes: A $1.5 Billion Industry Braces for FDA Regulation

The FDA is considering regulations for e-cigs. I’m sure the results will be quite pleasant for e-cig users such as myself. I predict we’ll have less convenience, less choice, and higher prices if the tobacco industry can use their money to sway the results.

Before getting to the meat of article though, I found this quote at the bottom of page 2:

Nicotine helps regulate your mood, and it is an appetite suppressant, too, which is why smokers who quit generally gain weight. It’s a cognitive enhancer, and there’s some hotly contested evidence that it may slow the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

I was fairly surprised by this information but apparently it has some support among researchers. Some of the data seems to have come from studies with rats.

There is a paper from 1992 that I found cited frequently: Warburton, David M. “Nicotine as a cognitive enhancer.” What I found odd about it is the attentional and memory related experiments involved nicotine deprived smokers. Maybe I’m missing something but it seems to me that a deprived smoker is probably going to be wasting mental possessing time thinking about the next time they are going to get to smoke. In other words I don’t see any reason why this would suggest nicotine would improve cognition in general among non-smokers.

Getting to the main point of the article though we have this:

The proposed regulations could be anything from basic rules ensuring that the nicotine cartridges contain what they’re supposed to and that the devices are safe to a scheme of the kind that Myers wants, with restrictions on flavored products and sexy marketing campaigns. Tight regulation would make the market much more complicated for upstarts such as V2Cigs, which don’t have the marketing or lobbying muscle of Big Tobacco.

The first type of regulation mentioned seems perfectly reasonable to me. The extension of public smoking bans mentioned later in the article seem sensible too, though I suspect they are at least partly motivated by public ignorance. What worries me are the tougher options that include limiting flavor options (so as not to entice young people I guess), and limiting or banning sale my mail.

The option to buy by mail is what keeps ecigs so cheap. You can feed your nicotine habit for as little as a quarter of what it would cost you to smoke. This is inconvenient for the big players in the tobacco industry, as the article points out. They would much rather you have to go buy it in a store where they can leverage their existing distribution networks to crush the small players that keep things cheap.

I’ve bought disposable ecigs in the gas station. They are more expensive than smoking, not less. I worry that these companies will be able to influence the regulatory process to set things up in their favor.