Tuesday, July 9, 2013

E-cigarettes gain fans and critics

The Gazette
By Tara Baird
July 9, 2013

South Carolina-- Lowcountry resident Ron Sena saw his first electronic cigarette while on a cruise with his wife.

A smoker for 40 years, Sena was aware of the regulations surrounding smoking in restaurants, so he was surprised when a man pulled out what looked to be a cigarette in the dining room.

“Hey, guy, you can’t smoke in here,” he remembers saying. He was intrigued by the answer he got: It’s water vapor, not smoke.

That’s when Sena’s interest in e-cigarettes was sparked, and he isn’t alone.

E-cigarettes broke onto the American market in 2007, and the market has grown every year since. Sales are expected to hit $1 billion in 2013, according to Euromonitor.

Angela Nixon of Clemson’s media relations department said the issue has been discussed in meetings about the tobacco-free push, but officials aren’t sure whether e-cigarettes should be banned.

“We’re still trying to define tobacco,” she said. “We still don’t know how harmful they are to people or to the environment, so we aren’t sure yet if we should include them.”

Electronic cigarettes have not been submitted to the Federal Drug Administration for testing.

The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association, or CASAA, encourages raising awareness, testing and development of smoking alternatives.

Elaine Keller, president of CASAA, said most manufacturers of the devices and products that accompany them have not submitted themselves to the FDA because of cost concerns.

If the products were submitted, the manufacturers would have to stop selling the products until the FDA approves them, said Keller.

“It would cost millions, and would have to go through a clinical trial period for three years,” she said. “Most companies are mom and pop and they can’t afford to do that.”

Keller said the only company she thinks could afford to do it would be Blu, which calls itself the “best-selling electronic cigarette.” Blu could not be reached for comment.

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