The debate regarding whether e-liquid and e-cigarettes are related to tobacco products has been raging since their inception. Decisions made by organizations like the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) will affect how people view these products as well as how they are taxed and regulated.
Those who see the benefits of vaping e-liquid and using e-cigarettes believe that linking them to tobacco products is deceptive, incorrect and even dangerous. This is because many smokers benefit from using e-liquid products in their quest to quit smoking.
Nicotine is Found in Numerous Plants – Not Just Tobacco
The truth is that the tobacco-derived compound nicotine is found in many plant-based foods like tomatoes, cauliflower, eggplant and potatoes. Tobacco is, of course, a plant, and its leaves contain more highly concentrated amounts of nicotine than other sources. Because of this, companies choose tobacco over other vegetables for the extraction of nicotine.
It should be noted that the nicotine liquid that is in e-liquids is purified and pristine. Even when derived from tobacco, advocates of e-cigarettes say it is then no longer connected with tobacco leaves or products.
E-Liquid Contains None of the 68 Harmful Carcinogens in Tobacco Products
Nicotine is very often lumped in with tobacco products; however, there is a strong argument that this is mistaken. Purified nicotine doesn’t have any of the cancer-causing effects associated with tobacco products like traditional cigarettes or chewing tobacco. By comparison, the smoke from traditional cigarettes contains 68 harmful carcinogens; one of these is the tar that is produced due to flames and combustion.
Nicotine actually mirrors caffeine somewhat in terms of its effects on the body. Nicotine itself is not carcinogenic or any more harmful to the body than reasonable amounts of caffeine. It even brings some minor health benefits to cognitive functioning and memory.
E-liquid does have additional ingredients besides nicotine, including propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin and ester-based flavorings. However, over 100 peer-reviewed studies of e-liquids and vaping have shown negligible harmful effects. All of these factors lead those who are in favor of e-liquid, e-cigarettes and vaping to believe they are not tobacco products and not related to tobacco products.
The FDA Focuses On “Intended Use” – Therapeutic or Recreational?
On the other side of the argument are people who point out that in the U.S., nicotine isn’t regulated by its form, but by its “intended use.” They say that products containing nicotine intended for use in smoking cessation or some other therapeutic treatment should be considered a drug. This means it should undergo studies and clinical trials as well as adhere to strict manufacturing protocols. However, if the intended use of a nicotine product is “recreational” (i.e. to be consumed, but not as a health treatment), then it should be considered a tobacco product.
It’s pretty clear why advocates of e-liquids and e-cigarettes as alternatives to smoking have a big problem with this. As of now, the FDA defines a “tobacco product” as one that contains either tobacco leaf or any derivative of it. Nicotine is indeed derived from tobacco, but as explained before, it is also present in other plant-based foods like tomatoes, cauliflower, eggplant and potatoes.
E-Liquids and Vaping Provide Safer Alternative to Cigarette Smoking
Currently, all nicotine in e-liquids is derived from tobacco due to its high concentrations of the substance. However, proponents of e-cigarettes point out that since it is present in other plants, it should not be linked with tobacco products. Again, nicotine does not have any of the 68 harmful carcinogens that are present in traditional cigarettes and chewing tobacco.
Educating both the FDA and the public about these points is the goal of e-liquid advocates. They feel that there is an unfair perception of e-liquids and vaping products as harmful, when they actually do not pose the health risks of true tobacco products. In fact, e-liquid products are effective in removing exposure to harmful smoke and other tobacco health hazards. If high-quality independent e-liquid companies are put out of business due to regulations and fees, millions of vapers may instead start smoking harmful cigarettes.