The American Surgeon General published the very first federal government report linking smoking and ill health half a century ago. The report also demanded that the United states government take acceptable helpful action to minimize the harm caused by smoking.

Since then the amount of Americans who illuminate has fallen from 42% to 18% as well as in some states the percentage of regular smokers can almost be counted in single figures. Similar reductions have occurred elsewhere. Up to 50 % great britain population smoked in 1974. Now, less than a quarter do. The figures around australia are even healthier.

This is extremely fantastic news because smoking causes many different diseases and is the key reason for preventable deaths in numerous countries. Indeed, smoking may have killed as many as 100m individuals the 20th century and the World Health Organisation estimates the figure for your twenty-first century could be a mind-boggling 1 billion.

About 50 years ago another significant “smoking related” event happened: the first electronic cigarette was patented. This is a device that produced vapour from tobacco without combustion. For most decades “vaping” remained a minority activity. But within the last few years these not-quite-so newfangled nicotine delivery devices have grown to be rather popular. And concern continues to be raised over their use and particularly uptake among young adults. While figures from Ash suggest a negligible number of vape pen mods, a newly released US-based study learned that the proportion of middle and school students in the united states who had ever used an e-cigarette more than doubled between 2011-2012. Some analysts have even predicted that vaping can become popular than smoking in a decade.

Modern e-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that vaporise nicotine for inhalation. They normally include a cartridge containing liquid nicotine as well as a heating element made to produce an aerosol. Many also have flavourings like menthol – a fact which has been criticised on the grounds that flavourings may make e-cigarettes more desirable to children.

Although vaping (and passive vaping) may well be safer than smoking (and passive smoking) a number of toxicological analyses have revealed that e-cigarettes contain many dangerous chemicals. The great thing is that e-cigarettes are primarily used by people as a popular quitting smoking aid. But it’s far from clear how effective e-cigarettes will be in helping people to stop smoking eventually. More worryingly, some research indicates that several “never smokers” have tried vaping. This really is of particular concern because e-cigarettes could work as a “gateway drug” to conventional cigarettes.

The relative insufficient evidence about the safety, effectiveness and ultimate impact of e-cigarettes has triggered the adoption of radically different methods to the import, production, sale, distribution and advertising of such devices. Some countries, like Argentina, effectively prohibited them. But many jurisdictions allow e-cigarettes to be sold and consumed susceptible to varying levels of regulation. The EU, for example, is taking a fairly hard line, however it is unclear at this stage what impact these new rules will have.

Ethically speaking, it might seem wise to be suspicious. E-cigarettes may not represent a modern day Trojan horse, however the recent interest shown by tobacco companies in these devices should provide us with all pause for thought. This does not necessarily mean that vaping ought to be entirely proscribed. Quite apart from the fact that our liberty rights dictate otherwise, there is, as noted above, good reason to believe that e-cigarettes are less dangerous than regular cigarettes so the net impact on health (and longevity) may well htkcbf positive.

But given the serious risk that vaping might re-glamourise smoking, especially amongst the young, a cautious regulatory approach is warranted. This will incorporate a ban on the sale of e-cigarettes to children along with a New York City-style ban on vaping in public places indoor spaces and private offices. In addition, it seems eminently sensible to set up regulations to ensure that the marketing of e-cigarettes is fixed to current smokers.

Most will complain that too many restrictions on the sale and consumption will be counter-productive. Some experts have even claimed that quality control regulation is, pretty much, all that is needed, and that vaping could make smoking redundant. But this approach seems overly lax. All things considered, there’s (usually) no vapour without fire.