Take a puff or butt out: The e-cig debate stuck at a standstill

As the year continues, the debate over electronic cigarettes continues to burn, leaving both sides of the heated argument in a gridlock.

In a previous column, I addressed my personal dislike of the advertising the market has taken. I, along with others, feel the market has targeted children especially.

“According to the study published online today by the journal Pediatrics, between 2011 and 2013 exposure to e-cigarette TV ads increased by 256 percent among adolescents ages 12 to 17 and by 321 percent among young adults, ages 18 to 24,” Michelle Healy of USA Today said.

The counter argument? Television is an open forum. Children are going to see the same images as adults and be exposed to the same material. Then, it becomes the parent's responsibility to address their children, not the industry's.

“As e-cigarette advertisements increase for adults, they are by default also increasing exposure to youth," RTI International public health researcher Jennifer Duke, told USA Today. "It's hard to argue that only adults are seeing these ads.”

Now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is hoping to regulate the market of electronic cigarettes. From limiting the purchase age to requiring an ingredient list on products, the FDA looks to expose the market from behind the mist of uncertainty.

“You won’t be able to mix nicotine in your bathtub and sell it anymore,” David Abrams, executive director of the Schroeder National Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies at the Legacy Foundation, told The New York Times.

But those who are trying to make a business from this newly developed market feel stifled, as these regulations are going to squash their business. Young adults feel they are getting stripped of their rights to inhale what they choose.

Some feel this is healthier than smoking a cigarette, which statistically is absolutely true. For those who are looking to quit smoking, resorting to a vape pen is a wonderful alternative. There are little to no dangers to the surrounding individuals because of the lack of second-hand smoke.

But puff for puff, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Those who pick up e-cigs for the first time are putting their bodies at risk for health problems somewhere down the line, not to mention the immediate damaging impact on the body these foreign toxins can cause.

“Smoking one cigarette constricts blood flow for up to 90 minutes, which means you're starving your skin from oxygen for an hour-and-a-half," Dermalogica's director of education Annet King told Teen Vogue.

Just like any debate, there are many sides to every story. Readers, writers, smokers, non-smokers all have different opinions, views, goals and hopes for the market. However, as a society, we have a responsibility to listen and respect other’s thoughts.

Yet, that seems to get lost in this debate. So when we don’t see eye to eye, we attack each other. Like this statement I received in an e-mail after my first column.

“Write an article about the alcohol industry and the gummy candy flavored vodkas available for sale that I'm sure you have partaken in before legal age.”

And this one.

“I am very disappointed by your lack of knowledge of the subject matter and wish that you would have done more research into an amazing industry that saves lives daily.”

We are all entitled to our opinions. I think smoking is not healthy and a dumb decision. But, you, as a reader are allowed to disagree.

But because this issue that has taken the nation by storm, if we fail to see each other’s sides, we are going to get nowhere. There are solutions to the controversial use of e-cigs, but we aren’t going to reach them if we fail to see reason in other’s sentiments.

I wholeheartedly agree that e-cigarettes are better in the long run for smokers who are seeking to quit. But I disagree that this market is not negatively affecting our youth.

Unfortunately, in this gridlock this issue is facing, the public may never find that compromise. This leaves us in a constant state of tension in the battle of whose opinion is louder.


Reach the columnist at rsmouse@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @BeccaSmouse

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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