Last week, the Food and Drug Administration announced “historic action” against e-cigarette manufacturers for what it sees as an “epidemic” of vaping among teenagers. E-cigarette makers have 60 days to come up with plans to mitigate teenage use of their products or face civil or criminal prosecution as well as new regulations such as sales bans on some of their products.
Such a move could reverse recent stop-smoking achievements. While smoking rates have been declining steadily over the last half century, the pace has dramatically picked up in recent years as e-cigarettes have gained popularity.
If regulators don’t get in the way, e-cigarettes can continue to chip away at the one-in-six Americans who still smoke. This would be a major victory for public health. Smoking is still responsible for one in every five deaths. That is nearly three times more than the combined number of suicide, overdose, and alcohol-related deaths, whose rise has been attributed to the decline in U.S. life expectancy.
E-cigarettes are a comparably safe alternative that help people quit smoking because they deliver nicotine through water vapor — without the tar, smoke, carbon monoxide, and countless carcinogens in cigarettes.