Should We Treat E-Cigs Like Cigs?

Since e-cigarettes remain unregulated by the FDA, some health officials worry that more young people are getting hooked on nicotine:

Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], believes that e-cigs could become a gateway into cigarette addiction. In an interview with the Times, Frieden argued that “the adolescent brain is more susceptible to nicotine, and that the trend of rising use could hook young people who might then move into more harmful products like conventional cigarettes.”

Kleiman puts the dangers in perspective. He writes that “the risks of nicotine are a tiny fraction – almost certainly less than 10%, arguably even lower than that – of the total health risks of smoking”:

If e-cigarettes substitute for smoking, the health benefits are likely to be very large. Even if they substitute for not smoking or for quitting, the damage is likely to be limited. … The FDA’s desire to have enough authority to require e-cigarette sellers to manufacture them properly and label them accurately, to limit marketing aimed at minors, and to be able to force the removal of unsafe product from the market, seems quite reasonable. What’s not reasonable, and what is likely to be bad, on balance, for health, is the idea that anything that delivers nicotine vapor should have the same rules applied to it as an actual cigarette.

Previous Dish on e-cigs, health risks and branding here, here and here.