E-Smokers React to Proposed FDA Regulations

Julia Boyle enjoys an electronic cigarette as she waits for customers at the Vapor Shark store, April 24, 2014, in Miami, Fla. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Both public health experts and manufacturers weighed in on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's proposal unveiled Thursday for tighter regulations on electronic cigarettes.

Predictably, most experts said the intended rules don't go far enough while e-cigarette makers bristled at restrictions that may treat their products like regular tobacco cigarettes.

But what about e-smokers? According to the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, there are four million Americans who vape, the term used for puffing on an e-cigarette device.

Reaction on Twitter from regular vapers ranged from the outraged…

to the cautious…

to those who believe that the FDA is blowing smoke when they say it isn't clear vaping is safer than traditional smoking.

Facebook vaping fans were also pretty fired up about the planned FDA rules.

"Know what the FDA is planning for us, right here, right now. Today is the time to fight. Today is the time to band together and rise up," said one community member on the Vaping Is Life fan page.

On another fan page, Vaping Craze, community members urged one another to voice their opinions to the FDA directly or sign petitions in protest.

"They fret about the nicotine, but there is nicotine in many plants including tomatoes. They fret about the flavors, yet allow Smirnoff Vodka to advertise candy and fruit flavors. Do Not, allow the FDA to take control of a lifesaving product…" wrote "T.B." the originator of a petition started on Whitehouse.gov titled "Veto the FDA Restrictions on E-Cigarettes."

The petition currently has nearly 10,000 signatures with the goal of reaching 100,000 signatures by May 24.

However, over at Change.org, there has been decidedly less activity. The site currently hosts four petitions against FDA regulation of electronic cigarettes but they are all from last year. The combined number of signatures is about 9,000, a spokeswoman for the site said. She also said that it was possible the petitions would be revived once people got fired up about the impending rules.

Until Thursday, e-cigarettes were uncontrolled by the government despite a 2011 federal court case that gave the FDA the authority to regulate e-smokes under existing tobacco laws rather than as a medication or medical device, presumably because they deliver nicotine, which is derived from tobacco.

Among the proposed rules, the FDA recommends requiring manufacturers to disclose product ingredients to the administration and put warning labels on the devices. Additionally, the rules would ban sales of e-cigarettes to people under the age of 18, though most e-cigarette companies voluntarily do not sell to minors.

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