Gazette Editorial Board
The growing popularity of electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, has raised some interesting questions.
Chief among them: Should these nicotine-delivery devices be regulated in the same ways as their combustible counterparts?
State and federal laws regulating tobacco products, including special taxes and Iowa’s Smokefree Air Act, don’t appear to cover e-cigarettes, which don’t contain tobacco or generate smoke — only, apparently, water vapor.
For the time being, we don’t see a clear reason for Iowa to change that by amending those laws, other than to limit their sale to adults 18 and over.
It is true that e-cigarettes often are used to deliver nicotine, an addictive substance.
But they have not been linked with any long-term or secondhand health effects, although research is ongoing. And while it makes sense to protect children and teens from developing nicotine addictions, expert opinion about the health consequences of nicotine are mixed.
Perhaps primarily because of their similarity to cigarettes, some local businesses have banned e-cigarette use in their workplaces, eateries and stores. That’s their right.
But blanket regulation of the devices is a different matter.
The devices do not contain the known and suspected carcinogens that make cigarette smoking such a major health hazard. Nor do e-cigarettes pollute indoor air the way combustible cigarettes do — if at all.
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller has joined 40 other state attorneys general asking the U.S. food and Drug Administration to issue some rules regulating e-cigarettes. The Iowa Department of Public Health has yet to take a position. Any final decision about regulation of e-cigarettes needs their input and more quality research.
l Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org or (319) 398-8262