Ecigarettes, politics and balancing budgets
This is a guest post by Mark from OK Electronic Cigarettes. This interesting article looks at the politics behind the e-cig industry and the struggles it faces. Make sure you head over to OK Electronic Cigarettes to check out their e-cig range, as well as further information about electronic cigarettes.
To those who have never followed the electronic cigarette industry it would appear to have come from nowhere to be a major competitor of the tobacco sector. Each day seems to bring exciting news in the industry, an array of new products and more calls for new regulations. It is easy to forget this is an industry which was seen as “niche” at the turn-of-the-century but is expected to turnover in excess of $2 billion in the US alone during 2015.
Initially politicians and the tobacco companies ignored the industry, wrote it off as a small market then everything changed! They talked down the industry, rumours and speculation were rife about potential health implications and when this didn’t work, critics of the industry moved on to greater regulations and then they fell in love with the sector – looking to nurture and control it going forward.
The fickle world of politics
It is amazing to see the electronic cigarette industry still growing so dramatically when it seems that the whole political arena, on a worldwide scale, has been against it. We have seen rumour after speculation after untruths for some time and only now is the real story beginning to emerge. Politicians claimed that electronic cigarettes were a gateway to tobacco cigarettes although a recent UK report has confirmed the exact opposite is true. There was talk of secondary smoking issues although this argument has yet again been blown out of the water. So why are politicians so anti-electronic cigarettes when some health experts believe they offer the best opportunity in our lifetime to fight tobacco addiction?
Does it come down to the money?
When you bear in mind the billions upon billions of dollars which tobacco tax brings in around the world it would be naive to suggest politicians are not influenced in any way by this. During this time of great austerity governments are struggling to balance their books, public services are under more pressure than ever before and there are very thin margins between severe funding issues and “getting by”. Is this a fair reflection of the current situation?
The public persona of many politicians involves “protecting the health of the general public” although behind-the-scenes we have seen moves in the US to reclassify electronic cigarettes with their tobacco counterparts. This would result in electronic cigarette sales coming under the guise of tobacco sales and helping to increase local authority income from recent financial settlements with the tobacco companies. These financial settlements revolve around tobacco imports and with tobacco smoking declining much faster than many had expected, some so-called “tobacco bonds” are starting to experience significant funding issues. Are electronic cigarettes and vaping devices a convenient stopgap?
The vaping community speaking as one
There have been significant developments on the regulatory front in Europe and the US over the last 12 months. Initially these regulatory developments seemed to be heading to very quick resolutions which appeared to be against the mood of the general public and the vaping community. However, social media and new technology has brought the vaping community together to fight what many see as an injustice and a means of appeasing the tobacco companies. This has resulted in a loud and very proud fightback from the vaping community and while it will take politicians a little time to come to terms with this, perhaps they are now starting to listen?
The electronic cigarette regulations proposed in Europe and the US have not reached the statute books and indeed there are legal challenges outstanding and active today. When you bear in mind that the FDA initially tried to ban electronic cigarettes out right just a few years ago, are we really playing on a level playing field?
Slowly but surely many of the political arguments against electronic cigarettes are falling apart, in-depth reports used to support strict regulations have attracted criticism from authors suggesting they have been misinterpreted for a predetermined political end. It will be interesting to see developments in the short to medium term, whether regulators will come under legal pressure and indeed if the on-going fightback from the vaping community continues to hold the attention of politicians around the world.