The popularity of electric cigarettes — or e-cigs — is on the rise, with retail sales increasing from $600 million in 2012 to a possible $1 billion in 2013, according to a report from securities analysts at Wells Fargo in a CBS newscast. But some people question the growing industry, wondering if e-cigarettes are as safe as some companies claim they are.
“Patients have come in and say, ‘Gee, I’ve tried this new form of cigarette. It’s great. I’m smoking a non-toxic form of cigarette,’” said Dr. Neil Schachter, a lung doctor in New York, in an interview with CBS News. “I say to them ... ’I don’t know if this is non-toxic.’”
But many agree that e-cigarettes are a healthier alternative to real cigarettes because they do not contain tobacco; rather, e-cigarettes convert nicotine into a vapor that the user inhales. Although there is no long-term research to show if the vapor has negative effects on people, most users say it is harmless to others. Some e-cigarette users even say that the device has steered them away from real cigarettes.
“I just got my kit. I love it!,” said commenter tlonnan84 on YouTube. “I'm 29 and smoked since I was 15. The batteries can be a pain but I seriously don't want anything to do with real cigs anymore. These are awesome.”
Although e-cigarettes are not regulated, the Food and Drug Administration released a statement regarding the product.
“Further research is needed to assess the potential public health benefits and risks of electronic cigarettes and other novel tobacco products,” said Jennifer Haliski, a public affairs officer for FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products in an article on thenationshealth.org.
For more than 40 years, federal regulations have barred TV and radio from carrying ads for cigarettes, but in late 2012 e-cigarette companies ran ads on cable television, with additional ads planned for later this year. Along with other concers, some worry that e-cigarettes glamorize cigarette smoking.
“This is no ordinary product because it encourages mimicking and could promote taking up smoking,” said Marisol Touraine, France’s health minister, in a press conference. Touraine intends to apply France’s cigarette ban to e-cigarettes.
One manufacturer predicts a promising future for e-cigarettes.
“Our mission is to obsolete cigarettes,” said Craig Weiss, CEO of e-cigarette company NJOY in an interview with CBS News. “I’ve got a 3-year-old and a 6-year-old, and I want to grow up in a world where they can ask me one day, ‘So wait a second Dad, I don’t understand. You used to light this thing on fire, and then you’d put it in your mouth? How did that even work?’”