It is quite true that if it were not for the internet, e-cigarettes may have been banned a long time ago, perhaps within just a couple of years of the product being released worldwide. As soon as large companies realized that these devices were a threat to both tobacco and pharmaceutical industries, they would have promptly funded anti-smoking groups to campaign against them. Scare stories would be planted in the media, because to admit that e-cigarettes are safer would be to admit that tobacco is bad. Without the internet, it would be difficult for the relatively smaller e-cigarette industry to get their point of view across. Even if they did get the word out that e-cigarettes were safer, the argument that a safer form of smoking would defeat the ban of smoking all together. This would have spelled doom for e-cigarettes, stubbing them out with a worldwide ban.
However, it has been over 5 years and the popularity of e-cigarettes is actually on the rise. The proposed ban is always a threat, but it has not happened yet. Not that attempts haven’t been made. Did you know that a senator who campaigned to have e-cigarettes removed from the market allegedly received a large sum towards funding for his campaign from pharmaceutical groups? That anti-smoking groups are indeed being paid by pharma industries today to campaign against e-cigarettes? Several attempts were made to prove that e-cigarettes are dangerous to use. And now that sufficient scientific evidence hasn’t been found, a ban is being called for on the basis of an ideology. According to recent reports from the WHO it appears that the organization is pushing for an e-cigarette ban on the grounds that it makes tobacco smoking appear normal. According to the New Zealand Ministry of Health, “it does raise issues about social approval of such devices and does run counter to one of the objectives of the [Smokefree Environments] Act and this bill, which is to de-normalize smoking.” This basically means that e-cigarettes are to be banned because they are safer, and the quit-or-die-trying approach will no longer work for smokers.
In the midst of all these scare attempts from various quarters, the internet has served as the much needed medium for powerless people to speak their minds and put forth their findings. Because of the possibilities that the internet provides, scientists who are otherwise unable to approach mainstream media, are able to publish their thoughts and the results of their experiments. Many such studies have proved that e-cigarettes are safe devices. The users of e-cigarettes are also able to educate themselves on the facts, rather than what the media chooses to portray. E-smokers have formed communities online to provide support and answer queries. Groups such as the CASAA are able to organize opposition to bans through the internet.
In spite of the impact that the internet has had, efforts are still underway to impose the ban on e-cigarettes. What could help in keeping the device that has helped several thousands to quit their smoking habit alive is to do our bit on the internet – share the right information online in every way possible.