An article published in Preventive Medicine has made the argument for more relaxed regulations on electronic cigarettes, due to their less risky nature.
According to ‘The influence of electronic cigarette age purchasing restrictions on adolescent tobacco and marijuana use’, the introduction of age restrictions on buying vaping products could make it harder for teens to quit smoking.
In fact, the study shows that such restrictions are associated with an increase in cigarette use in teens.
The problem is that when e-cigarettes are restricted under the same laws as traditional tobacco cigarettes, it makes it harder for teens to try switching to this significantly less habit that has already helped many adult smokers to cease or reduce their tobacco intake.
Dr. Michael Pesko, an assistant professor of healthcare policy at Weill Cornell Medicine, explained why “it would be a mistake to regulate them the same way we regulate cigarettes”.
“We should regulate tobacco products proportionate to their risks,” he said, “and e-cigarette evidence suggest they’re less risky products.
Due to the potential for slight health risks in electronic cigarettes, American states such as Hawaii and New York have both increased the legal purchasing age to 21, alongside cigarettes. However, the study suggests that while cigarettes should only be purchased by those 21 and over, e-cigarettes should not be similarly restricted, in order to encourage smoking cessation.
Fortunately, vaping is more popular amongst teens than smoking. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) e-cig use in high school students in 2014 was 13.4 percent, while traditional cigarette use was down to 9.2 percent.
Hopefully, future government bodies around the world will take studies such as this into account when updating electronic cigarette regulations.