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The future of electronic cigarette growth depends on youth uptake

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Simon Chapman discusses the phenomenon of “e-cigarettes” and the potential risks associated with their use

The New South Wales Government recently announced that it will outlaw the sale of electronic cigarettes (ECs) to minors. For the unfamiliar, ECs are battery-powered vaporisers that produce an aerosol or vapour containing nicotine and other substances, rather than cigarette smoke, which the user inhales. Parallel laws banning sales of tobacco products to children have existed in Australian states since 1900.1 These laws have long been ignored by many retailers2 and are poorly enforced. Prosecutions are rare, with the laws being largely symbolic gestures.

The tobacco industry long ago perfected pious expressions of public concern about juvenile smoking, while knowing how essential new cohorts of young smokers are to its very survival as an industry. Private acknowledgement of its own duplicity was hardly surprising:3

… this is one of the proposals that we shall initiate to show that we as an industry are doing something about discouraging young people to smoke. This of course is a phony way of showing sincerity as we all well know.

Equally, any manufacturer or retailer of ECs wanting to maximise sales appreciates the critical importance of building…