Dr. Siegel Explains Why E-Cigarettes Are Here to Stay, Despite Looming FDA Regulations

By Evan Brenner Posted October 24, 2013

Amidst continual pressure by the FDA to regulate electronic cigarettes, industry continues to thrive and move forward under the guidance of several intelligent, level-headed minds. Among the most tempered and admired voices in the field is Boston University School of Public Health’s Dr. Michael Siegel.


Dr. Michael Siegel on FDA Regulations for E-Cigs
“I hope that the FDA does set up some sort of regulation that focus on a uniform set of quality control procedures.”

Serving the public health field since his days at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Siegel is a staunch proponent of e-cigarettes, frequently publishing thoughts and examination at his Tobacco Analysis blog. He worries that most of his colleagues in public health have left smokers in the dust. Citing them as significant technological advancements, Siegel appreciates e-cigs, and recognizes their importance with regards to the way they change a smoker’s behavior.


“It’s the first innovation in decades, perhaps in my lifetime, that I think really has the potential to offer a substantially improved smoking cessation strategy,” said Dr. Michael Siegel.


How e-cigarettes address the problems associated with smoking, and their effect on mannerisms related to smoking is what most endears Siegel.


“It’s the really the first approach that treats smoking as an oral behavior, and not just as an addiction to nicotine,” said Siegel.


Bans and legislation won’t stop e-cigs


Conceived in the ’60s and globalized earlier this century, electronic cigarettes keep rolling forward.  Bans, regardless of their outcome, have seemingly come and gone, and e-cigs still stand. Siegel doesn’t see the European Union’s latest e-cig verdict as a burden to regulatory decisions in the US, noting that previous battles in court between e-cigarette manufacturers and lawmakers actually prohibit the FDA from deeming e-cigs as medicine.


“We’re very fortunate to have this decision in court that prohibits the FDA from regulating e-cigs as a drug.”


Siegel hopes that current New York City threats by Mayor Michael Bloomberg won’t affect other cities.


“Even though it’s one city, it could spread,” said Siegel.


The threat of regulation has loomed over the industry for years. In March, Mitch Zeller took over the reins at the Center for Tobacco Control. Pundits and proponents alike waited with baited breath to hear  his much anticipated April ruling, only to have the date come and go without a word. Now the industry waits until October when some standards could come to light.


“From what I’ve seen of Mitch Zeller, I think he takes a very science based, practical approach,” said Siegel. “He’s actually spoken about the consumer risk of different products, and the need to have different regulations for different levels of risk.


It’s because of these statements that Siegel sees Zeller as a possible plus in the regulation equation.


I’m hopeful that, based on his statements, he’ll have an  enlightened view,” said Siegel.


No Industry Without Diversity


There are two schools of thought in vaping: cigarette look-a-likes, and their slightly different cousins, commonly referred to as tanks, mods or personal vaporizors. The second group is more versatile simply because of their adaptability. Essentially more control over the variables. It is this very fact that Siegel views as a plus for commerce.


“I think that one of the beauties of the whole industry, making it so successful, is that there is a wide variety of choices out there,” said Siegel. “I think that what smokers like is that there are different types. It’s like a hobby. You can collect different types.”


Another area that concerns regulators is the different types of e-liquid, some bearing the names and tastes of popular candy. Dr. Siegel is all for it, encouraged by the views of some of the people he’s come in contact with.


SEE ALSO: E-Cig Flavors Are Not Targeted At Minors (Rebuttal)


“The vapers that I’ve talked to really like the idea that you can choose your liquid,” said Siegel. “I think it’s an advantage that there are different choices to be made, different types of products, different flavorings.”


Positives of Regulation


Even though regulation would mean some change, Dr. Siegel maintains that some regulation would benefit the industry as a whole. While some rules would be game changers, lighter restrictions, like those mainly intended to keep manufacturing in check would benefit the greater good.


“I hope that the FDA does set up some sort of regulation that focus on a uniform set of quality control procedures,” said Siegel. “I think that consumers need to know that no matter what brand they’re buying, if it says zero nicotine, that there really isn’t any nicotine. If it says 16 milligrams, it’s really 16 mg.”


Follow Dr. Michael Siegel on Twitter: @mbsiegel and visit his website: The Rest of the Story: Tobacco News Analysis and Commentary 


Have a question for Dr. Siegel, or want to express your thoughts about the FDA’s impending regulations? Tell us in the comments below.

  • Bob

    I highly doubt the FDA will ban e-cigarettes. Tough restrictions…most likely! But not a complete ban. Age restrictions would be expected, and some regulations on advertising/marketing of the products.

    What I hope to see is regulations on the manufacturing process (especially since most products are made in China). As Dr. Siegel said, we want to trust that the e-cig (e-liquid) we vape is safe and contains *only* the ingredients specified on the labeling, within safe limits for consumption. I’ve been vaping for over a year now and have had no issues whatsoever, but the whole point is to avoid the one-in-a-million type incidents that could get us all in trouble.

    • Pitim

      I agree. FDA will not ban ecigs completely. I think so because it will not make sense. I mean, it’s not really a cigarette so it’s not the actual cigarette smoke. Its vapor. If you walk by the side of a person who is vaping you are not going to notice it. I have seen many people vaping in many places and If you ask does that create a problem? I will say I don’t know, it all depends on your perspective.

      Theoretically, ecigs is a good idea. It gives you the nicotine delivery plus the behavioral component. So, I will say it has potential.

  • Kevin Voigt

    Bloomberg is a laughing stock since his battle against …. soda. NYC is turning into another nanny government, same as California. Remember this, freedom of choice.

  • Kevin Voigt

    Need to regulate the juice makers for quality testing. Some are using substandard ingredients, mixing in the same room as pets and kids, orrrr not even testing nic levels of the batches prior to shipping the item!

  • Uma

    I couldn’t agree more with Dr. Siegel’s interpretation of the Vaper’s needs and hopes. There is not a one-size-fits-all eCig anymore than there is a one-size-fits-all tobacco cigarette. I’d like to personally thank Dr Siegel for his hard work, dedication and in depth research he has obviously undertaken, because he understands the sensitive aspects that is hidden from the researchers who only skim the surfaces. Dr. Siegel is no skimmer. .

  • GLewis_1

    I think positive regulations are welcome. As Dr. Siegal said “restrictions that intended to keep manufacturing in check would benefit the greater good”. Also, regulations that will focus on “uniform set of quality control procedures” will only be beneficial for the e-cigs users as it will give an assurance to the users that what they are buying is safe. Actually, e-cigs users tend to self-regulate that is, when you get the ‘urge’ you inhale from e-cig and when the ‘urge’ passes you stop. It is different in case of tobacco users as sometimes they tend to smoke the entire pack of cigarette where only 1 or 2 cigarette would have satisfied the urge. Also, for many of the e-cig users it is more of a “hand-mouth” thing so with e-cig they can lower the strength from the one they started – something which they can’t do with traditional cigarette. In reality, there are a lot of people who have only learned the truth after making the switch to e-cigs. So, I think e-cigs are here to stay.

  • Great information shared. I think E-cigarettes can help alot to many people quit traditional smoking as traditional smoking contains bad toxins like tobacco which spoils whole body..E- cigarettes are far better as it does not contain that bad toxins which are injurious to health.

  • Young_Ka

    @kevinvoigt:disqus: Agreed. Regulating the juice makers will ensure the products are safe and
    effective. Smokers who are unwilling or are unable to stop using nicotine
    switch to e-cigs because it is a safer alternative to smoking. When all aspects
    of the manufacturing process will be taken care of e-cigs will speak for

  • JaAnder

    It feels like a cigarette, looks like a cigarette and you smoke it like a cigarette. Naturally, it appeals to a smoker who is on the path to quitting analog cigs. He is perhaps as addicted to the nicotine as the actual act of smoking. And the good news is ecigs are actually helping smokers kick the habit of cigarette smoking. Presently, the benefits of ecigs are becoming common knowledge to not only the people of smoking community but also to the general public at large. So when it comes to the future of vapor smoking, it is bright! The only bump on the road will be the government taxation. As of now, there are no stringent federal or local regulations however as the industry expands FDA involvement will be more pronounced which may drive their cost up. Foreseeing the future, ecig companies are preparing for the inevitable change.

    All in all, I think it’s an exciting time for the vapor smoker as we are witnessing a large number of analog smokers making a switch to ecigs. It has the ability to shape the future of smoking.

    So, YES, ecigs are here to stay!