Because so much important research is still underway and legal matters are still being disputed, official age restrictions have not been set for the purchase and use of electronic cigarettes: tobacco-free, vaporizing devices marketed as an alternative choice for nicotine use. While we cannot treat the electronic cigarette as a tobacco cigarette for the obvious reasons that it is not the same thing (it instead vaporizes nicotine fluid with an atomizer unit activated with the suction at the end of the device), we still don’t want to make it any easier for minors to start using, and potentially become addicted, to nicotine any earlier than we can help. Many people believe the variety of flavours the e-juice is being offered in – like chocolate, strawberry, and bubblegum – may further attract children not even looking to try nicotine. New designs and colours are also used as marketing tools to attract the younger consumer demographic, which enjoy most new technical gadgets.
These thoughts need not cast e-cigarettes in a negative light, but only push the effort to regulate who these products are available to. While companies cannot claim e-cigs will aid in the habitual smoker’s quest to quit smoking, it can help wean them off nicotine or at least switch their method of nicotine consumption to a smokeless option. One may encourage someone who is already smoking to give them a try. After all, what do they have to lose? But what about a youngster who is able to purchase this product online and try nicotine for their first time this way? They may become addicted, habitual users of the product or resultantly go on to try other nicotine products – like tobacco-cigarettes.
We want to help habitual smokers cut smoke and tar from their addiction, but we do not want to make it any easier for anyone to become addicted to nicotine at an even younger age than before. Kids will smoke tobacco cigarettes regardless of the regulations in place, but at least an effort has been made to discourage, and regulate, the use. We don’t want to hand children, or anybody, nicotine on a silver platter. Some people are pushing the idea to employ a simple age verification system in online stores, similar to that used on some alcoholic websites, to at least suggest a consideration of age regulation
Until more extensive research is done on the product and legal matters are hashed out in the court system, the FDA has little grounds to regulate electronic cigarette importation, let alone company marketing strategies. Still, advances are being made. Last week, Sottera, one of the top e-cig manufacturers in the United States, agreed without litigation to adjust their marketing strategies to deter minors from purchasing their product. Some of these adjustments include: an age-restricted website and collection of a government ID at store counters and no more selling of flavoured cartridges. As time goes on, more and more companies will be asked to examine the measures taken to prevent underage use of their product.