Opinion: Are E-Cigarettes a Gateway to Traditional Cigarettes?

To solicit support for a measure that is already in place seems like a misappropriation of energies, however, it is the foundation to which the war on e-cigarettes is based.

In the ongoing debate about the health and safety concerns over the use of e-cigarettes, the issue emerges as to whether e-cigarettes are simply a “gateway” to tobacco cigarettes. Regulation is being sought, however, it seems apparent that manufacturers and retail outlets have already taken these measures.

The “Gateway” Fallacy

This concept may seem strange, considering the fact that e-cigarettes are presented as an alternative to analogue cigarettes. However, this issue seems to be of some concern when it comes to young people experimenting with drugs, alcohol, or tobacco products.

In light of these concerns, the question must be asked, would these young people that are discovering vaping have chosen tobacco cigarettes if vaping were not available? Most would agree that the answer is, yes.

As far as e-cigarettes being a gateway to tobacco products, this issue seems to resolve itself. As millions of e-cigarette users can attest to, cigarettes do not provide the satisfaction of vaping. It also carries with it none of the restrictions of traditional tobacco use. It does not stain or yellow teeth, it does not leave an odor indoors, it does not carry the risk of second or third-hand smoke exposure to others, it does not contain the 7,000 chemicals that cigarettes produce – many of which are known to cause cancer, and it does not cause halitosis.

By these measures, transitioning from e-cigarettes to tobacco use would be a sizeable downgrade in relation to satisfaction and health consequences. To say that individuals are not capable of making this distinction blurs the line between lawful regulation, and authoritarianism.

Regulating the Regulated

Lawmakers and anti-vaping advocates most often state their desire to regulate the age which e-cigarette products are sold. This has garnered much support, and for good reason. Age restrictions are sought after by many, and many have joined in this fight. However, it seems as though e-cigarette manufacturers and retail stores have already beaten them to the punch.

Nicotine use by minors is something that should be prohibited, and that is why e-cigarette manufacturers, distributers, and retailers alike, have already prohibited sales to minors. Instead of being heralded as an industry which has taken it upon itself to regulate the sale, distribution, and usage of their products – it is being looked at as if lawmakers are parents who do not trust their children, and therefore must step in to oversee this regulation themselves.

Final Thoughts

If an industry has already demonstrated the responsibility and professionalism to put safety measures in check, why do lawmakers feel the need to omit this pertinent piece of information when soliciting support from the general public? Would this not be the kind of responsible business practice lawmakers would commend and applaud? The fact that they are not should perhaps be more frightening, as this question remains unanswered.