The fledgling e-cigarette industry has a lot of powerful enemies, including the tobacco industry, the pharmaceutical industry, government regulatory agencies, and even some anti-smoking groups. The reason for opposition from tobacco companies is obvious; they fear a loss of sales of cigarettes. Pharmaceutical companies see e-cigarettes as competition for their own smoking-cessation products, such as nicotine patches and gum. The Unites States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is worried about the possible long-term health effects of what is essentially an untested product. Finally, some anti-smoking groups oppose e-cigarettes because they worry that if e-cigarettes become the next “in thing”, they might create a whole new generation of nicotine addicts who never smoked in the first place.
With this much opposition to e-cigarettes, how is it that the European Parliament recently suddenly dropped its plans to regulate e-cigarettes as “medicinal products”, to be sold only in pharmacies? It turns out that e-cigarette users, many of them ex-smokers, believe passionately that e-cigarettes are a good thing. Faced with growing opposition to e-cigarettes, they mounted a vigorous grassroots lobbying campaign that ultimately caused the European Parliament to back down. They even have their own website, called saveecigs.com. Although the website is hyped as a grassroots effort, it’s actually backed by at least one of the major e-cigarette companies, according to a New York Times article.
It’s not often that a fledgling industry and a few product users are able to take on the Goliaths of industry and win. But the battle over e-cigarettes is just beginning. In the United States the FDA is still considering whether or not e-cigarettes should be regulated as nicotine-delivery devices. Since the e-cigarette lobbying effort worked so well in Europe, perhaps we’ll see a similar "grassroots" lobbying effort (backed by e-cigarette companies) in this country.