The website for North Shore Vapors in Salem says it all: “Stop smoking and start vaping today, because vapor tastes better than smoke, and vapor won’t kill you.”
That, say e-cigarette sellers, is a pretty good summary of why vaporizing is better than smoking tobacco. But pretty soon, making health-related claims like “vapor won’t kill you” without scientific proof will be illegal, at least if you’re an e-cigarette maker.
Barring manufacturers from making claims that aren’t backed by medical evidence is just one of a number of regulations the Food and Drug Administration has proposed for e-cigarettes, which until now have largely escaped the federal government’s scrutiny.
E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that vaporize liquid solutions, some of which contain nicotine. They look and feel like cigarettes, and produce a visible vapor that can be inhaled like smoke. Proponents say they aren’t as dangerous as their cancer-causing cousins; opponents say there’s no proof of that, and that children are attracted to them by the range of available flavors.
Other restrictions proposed for the blossoming industry include barring sales of e-cigarettes and accompanying materials to be people under 18, forbidding free in-store samples and putting health warnings on associated packaging.
Locally, e-cigarette sellers say the age limits aren’t likely to affect their businesses, since local laws forbid anybody under 18 from purchasing them anyhow. In Salem, for instance, e-cigarettes are considered “nicotine delivery products,” and are thus treated identically to their smokier counterparts when it comes to how old you have to be to buy them.
Or, as Mike Allen, owner of the Red Lion Smoke Shop, put it when informed of the upcoming regulations: “I always just assumed you couldn’t sell to a minor anyways.”