How Should E-Cigarettes Be Regulated?

Should e-cigarettes be regulated he same way as cigarettes? Should marketing and sales restrictions be the same? Policy and health experts chime-in.


ublic health excitement around e-cigarettes rests on their potential to significantly reduce harm compared to cigarettes. If the evidence does eventually show net benefits at the population level—ie, that cigarette smokers will switch completely to e-cigs, that they do not lead to youth uptake of cigarettes and that any harm (both from using and from being exposed to someone using) is negligible—then we can consider marketing these products aggressively.

Until then, e-cigs should be subject to the same marketing and sales restrictions as cigarettes. In addition, use of e-cigs should be prohibited in indoor and outdoor public places where cigarettes are prohibited, and they should not be sold to minors unless prescribed by a health care provider.

The overwhelming preventable deaths come not from nicotine but from smoking tobacco, primarily cigarettes. The goal of regulation is harm minimization at individual and population levels: use e-cigs to speed the obsolescence of lethal combustibles, while keeping them away from youth.

Link to the comments on the Johns Hopkins website: