The electronic cigarette business is a worldwide phenomenon. Considering that it has only started to be introduced to China in 2004 and to the other countries of the world (UK and US) in 2006-2007, there were reports that can confirm that the business has been doing great in almost all places, including Spain.
Sales of the electronic cigarette business are amazing. In 2011, the revenue it has accumulated reached 233 million euros or 300 million dollars in US alone. The following year, 2012, sales increased by 100% and reached 600 million dollars. The investment bank, Goldman Sachs and other consultants like Euromonitor, estimate that the industry in Europe will be worth 500 million euros this year while its worldwide market will be valued at 2 billion in terms of sales.
Uncertain About Electronic Cigarette Safety
Electronic cigarette business is no doubt booming and slowly exceeding traditional cigarettes. Yet, many opponents of these products are claiming that their safety is not yet confirmed or established. Available studies about these devices are too few and even contradict one another. According to Professor Esteve, a public health expert from the University of Barcelona, all must take caution and should even practice some skepticism over electronic cigarettes. He said that these products can become a massive phenomenon whose uncertainties are also huge.
Professor Esteve, who is also a Catalan Public Health Agency member, also says that these products might contain substances that are harmful and might be carcinogenic. Since the device has only been recently introduced, he added that there is also no way to know what damaging effects it could have on someone using it for 15 years. In the US, the American Society of Pulmonologists even released recent study results that showed these use of electronic cigarettes is actually affecting the capacity of a person’s respiratory system. Right now, the electronic cigarette business has been using television advertisements that tobacco companies have been banned to use for four decades or so. Some sellers are even allowing minors to purchase them even if they contain the addictive nicotine.
In British Medical Journal published recently, one could read an article that warns about these products posing a means for people to retain rather than quit smoking. Electronic cigarette users who were former smokers are now more socially accepted. They can now vape in many places where smoking is prohibited. Some are associating vaping as using snuff. Being seen by minors, they are essentially making smoking an attractive habit for minors to start pursuing. Nonetheless, British Royal College of Physicians defended the consumption and dissemination of electronic cigarettes, stating they are safer than the traditional cigarettes.
These uncertainties affect not only the health field. Electronic cigarette business is also now impacting the industry of traditional cigarettes. Multinationals in the industry have already invested on this still small, but quickly growing market. Analysts even say that electronic cigarette business may exceed the industry of tobacco cigarettes in the next 10 years. In Spain, the consumption of tobacco cigarettes has actually dropped by five points in the past years as electronic cigarette stores are proliferating.
No Common Policy
There is no common policy followed by European countries. Europe is said to be in the process of preparing such regulation and this policy will still take time before finally implemented. Right now, there is a proposal to regulate the products as medicines and this proposal need first to pass the Parliament and the Council.
In Spain, many electronic cigarette opponents are surprised by the lack of action the government is doing to regulate the electronic cigarette business. In fact, the Ministry of Health and Commissioner for the Tobacco Market do not have data concerning the consumption of the device or the number of shops being opened.
In Spain, even young people are sometimes seen using these devices while other countries in Europe are implementing restrictions on them like in France, Italy, Denmark, Belgium and Norway. In Spain, these products can be bought from the mall, specialty shops and practically just about anywhere.