Elctronic Cigarette Information: E-Cigarette Regulation – Thoughts from Experts and Users

Lindsay Fox Posted December 12, 2013

With the FDA on the cusp of announcing deeming regulations for e-cigs, many vapers, researchers and advocates have been pondering the question of how best to regulate e-cigs of late. Even amongst the community, the question is divisive; it’s a problem which pits idealism against realism. Most readily agree that things are fine as they are (given that the alternative is equivalent in terms of risk to playing Russian roulette with three bullets in the chamber), but it’s unrealistic to pretend that this will continue.

So, what should regulation be like? Should we be as worried about children and non-smokers taking up vaping as much as ideological anti-smoking groups, prohibitionist politicians and sensationalist media outlets allege? Are marketing restrictions justified? Should e-cigs really be considered as tobacco products in the eyes of the Federal Government? We put these – and other – questions to ordinary vapers, bloggers and reviewers, scientists and researchers, and prominent advocates to get a picture of where the community falls on the issues.

#1. What do you think e-cig regulation should look like? Do we need it at all?

John Manzione Spinfuel Electronic Cigarette BlogJohn Manzione, Spinfuel:

I think it’s important to remember what the job of government is really supposed to be. Yes, I believe we need some regulation, but not much. What we need is more enforcement in the “truth in advertising” laws. That’s not to say we don’t need regulations to make sure that quality parts are used in the construction of e-cigarettes, they are batteries after all. Cartomizers should be filled with quality materials, safe for human consumption. E-liquids should be regulated more, with emphasis on purity of the ingredients, handling, mixing, bottling, storage, and shipping. Like foodstuffs. Local laws should take precedence for local sales of local e-liquids, federal level laws when products are sold over the internet, out of state, etc. Inspections of facilities, like they do with restaurants, is sensible. Random checks on bottled e-liquids to check nicotine levels and purity. If companies are selling 100% VG then it should be 100% VG, 18mg should be 18mg, and so on. Some regulation is needed, but keep it to a minimum. The government should also come down hard on any e-cig brand making statements that are untrue, or hiding information like auto-shipment, “risk free” scams, and so forth. Don’t outlaw them, just make them play straight and they will simply disappear.

Nick Green GrimmGreen E-Cig ReviewerNick “GrimmGreen” Green:

I don’t think there is one specific element that could be made safer through government regulation. One thing that I think needs to be in place for all liquid manufacturing (and what AEMSA is trying to accomplish) is some good manufacturing practices. My background is in manufacturing, so I understand things like sterile, clean work areas, safe handling, HACCP, Food Safety, etc. These things just make sense in liquid manufacturing. The days of Joe Shmoe’s kitchen mixed e-liquid need to go away.

Twgbonehead, vaper, via E-Cigarette Forum:

Why the intense concern on quality of ingredients, or manufacturing standards? For me this is replacing cigarette smoking, where I am inhaling a large number of chemicals which are known to be dangerous. Is the FDA going to certify that tobacco processing (at all stages, from the farm to the shelf) doesn’t add anything extra, and is performed under sterile conditions?

There is currently a lot of competition between juice vendors, and those that do not make a quality product will not stay in business. If a juice company wants to certify their production environment and do spectrographic analyses of their juices (as some are now doing!) then a customer can decide to use them.

The “safety” of e-juice is a red herring, plain and simple. The FDA is not effective in protecting our produce from salmonella, e-coli, listeria and other deadly contaminants, and always points to outbreaks as “We just don’t have the manpower to inspect and test everything.” So somehow e-juice is such a dangerous threat that it merits pulling the few inspectors off of food and drug inspections so they can inspect e-juice factories? Personally I see a much greater potential for danger in the food I eat than in the liquids I vape. Food production provides numerous opportunities for contamination, whereas the manufacture of e-juice only requires simple precautions to provide an “as advertised” product.

To compound the issue, the FDA has shown a complete lack of understanding of basic science when it conducted the one-and-only test it has ever done on e-juice. Before we start handing over more funds to the FDA to do any kind of certification, I would like to see one example of a competent analysis of e-juice conducted by the FDA, with their findings reviewed and published in a respectable scientific publication.

Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos E-Cig ResearcherDr. Konstantinos Farsalinos, Researcher, Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center, and Blogger at E-Cigarette Research:

Currently-proposed regulations by organizations such as the MHRA are unlikely to promote any kind of benefits in terms of e-cigarette products safety. The amount of bureaucracy, extensive testing and tight restrictions will limit accessibility, reduce variability and destroy innovation and development of new and more efficient products. Undoubtedly some regulation should be implemented. The e-cigarette industry should become more responsible and provide proof rather than just words about the quality and safety of their products. E-cigarette users deserve to make informed decisions based on evidence, and regulation will force companies to test their products. This can be achieved without having an adverse impact on the main characteristics that determine the success of e-cigarettes. It is easy, rational and cost-effective to implement rules to provide proof that pharma-grade ingredients are used in e-liquids. Additionally, targeted but limited testing on liquids and vapor should be requested, which will ensure that consumers make informed decisions about their choices. Standards in the production process, such as those released by American E-liquid Manufacturing Standards Association (AEMSA), are a major step forward in promoting sensible but substantial regulation which ensures product quality and safety.

Vapin Station, LLC:

Definitely need regulations on juice for safety, and 18 or over. The rest? Well, I don’t think they have regulations on other batteries, do they?