How Have Regulators Responded To Electronic Cigarettes?

Like anything new on the market, electronic cigarettes attracted the attention of government agencies charged with watching over and regulating the commodities that its people have access to. Regulations are set up for different substances in order to protect the citizens from exposure to harm that may be present in what is marketed to them.

It is no wonder that regulators sprung into action when E-Cigs hit their markets. These devices entered the European and American markets at about the same time, in 2006 and 2007. The initial response of regulators in these markets was one of distrust, if not outright hostility as we shall explore below.

Turkey Reacts.

The Turkish government, through its Ministry of Health banned the importation and sale of the E-Cigs, asserting that they were as detrimental to the health of users as the traditional cigarettes. This was in March 2008. This seemed to set the tone for other regulators.

WHO Makes Its Voice Heard.

In Sept. 2008, the World Health Organization issued a verdict compelling those marketing these cigarettes to stop claiming in their materials that electronic cigarettes are looked at by WHO as effective and safe, or that they are facilitators of quitting the smoking habit. This fell short of declaring the devices unsafe, or no different from the usual tobacco cigarettes.

Other countries took stronger positions against the E-Cigs, with Jordan, the US and Hong Kong, among others, banning the importation and sale of these devices in their markets. The fate of the electronic cigarette seemed destined to a quick trip into oblivion due to this staggering hostility, but another wave was born to counter this mass condemnation.

Pro E-Cig Campaigners Respond.

Health New Zealand, funded by Ruyan, carried out an analysis of electronic cigarettes in 2008 and found that overall; they were less harmful, potentially, than the traditional cigarettes. The levels of nicotine in these E-Cigs were equated to levels present in accepted medical inhalers containing nicotine.

With all the controversy surrounding electronic cigarettes, manufacturers, retailers as well as distributors of these products realize that they were fragmented in their attempts to disseminate information about their products. They therefore agreed to form an umbrella body to enable them speak with one voice on matters concerning E-Cigs.

In May of 2009, the ECA-Electronic Cigarette Association was born and headquartered in Washington. It had two major areas of concern; setting up of standards by which players in the industry could be governed, as well as speaking out on behalf of the industry on matters of the public’s interest in the health implications of electronic cigarettes. This organization no longer exists, but was instrumental in stating the case of electronic cigarettes in the US, something that was lacking before its formation. Find more at

The Tide Turns.

Campaigners started to slowly reverse the hostility towards E-Cigs, as different states and countries that had banned their sale or distribution begun losing suits and getting compelled to regulate them like they did the traditional cigarettes. The US was also forced to soften its stance, except in cases where therapeutic claims are made by producers or distributors.

Today, there is now more awareness about these products so some of the knee-jerk reactions of regulators have been altered due to the growing body of evidence about the contents of electronic cigarettes.