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E-cigarette Legislation - General Issues

Electronic cigarettes have been on the market since 2006, yet even now their legal status is a grey area in many jurisdictions. In some countries, regulatory authorities have prohibited their sale, whereas in most the regulatory situation remains fluid as the authorities work out how to classify them.

In fact, the current situation is rather precarious when one considers the huge vested interests held by Tobacco and Pharmaceutical companies, and the substantial loss in tax revenues that governments' face when e-cigarettes start to become seriously popular. As you might expect, there is currently a huge amount of 'behind the scenes' activity by lobby groups and governmental agencies looking to reduce the impact that e-cigarettes have on their bottom line.

The greatest concern is that electronic cigarettes are banned entirely, although this now seems unlikely in Western countries in which they have been available for some time. Instead, the real issue is now that the industry which has developed in recent years is over-regulated, and vapers' can no longer buy, from the open market, the devices that satisfy their needs.

The game changed entirely in April 2012, when Tobacco giant Lorrilard (4th largest US tobacco company) bought Blusmoke for $135m - Many observers were surprised that BT (Big Tobacco) hadn't made a play for e-cigarettes previously, but the late entry makes sense when you consider the vast amount of capital these companies have at their disposal: Why spend time and resources building up a product for which there is no certainty of a market when you can pick one up later on for, relative, chump change? Others will now certainly follow - and with their logistical chains in place around the world, it's almost certain that they'll be lobbying for internet sales to be banned.

The internet has been one of the chief enabling factors in the development of e-cigarette products. ECF alone has over 300 suppliers selling directly to customers, and the debates and communication between customers and sellers on the forum has led to the rapid development of products that are increasingly answering their needs. The danger now is that if internet sales are banned, the development of electronic cigarettes will be neutered, replaced by shop bought products that are a poor match for vapers' needs; the world's current most promising technology in the fight against tobacco rendered unacceptable to the very people who need it.

To this date, there has been absolutely no evidence published which indicates any dangers from electronic cigarettes as sold today. Clearly, some regulation must exist, but we at ECF see no reason why this should not be kept at a minimum: Hygiene, maximum nicotine levels (already set at 24mg/ml of e-liquid by most vendors) and a few flavours which are known respiratory irritants. We are not naive to the fact that the pressures on e-cigarettes will not dissipate any time soon, and if you wish to keep up to date on the latest developments, visit our legislation forum.

Lastly, as a consumer, you should consider who you are giving your money to. Ask your supplier what they are doing to keep the industry out of the hands of the legislators? Are they working with other suppliers to lobby against vested interests, or are they happy to make hay while the sun shines without concern for future developments?

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