A strong majority (79 percent) of U.S. citizens want e-cigarettes to be regulated, according to a Gallup poll.
Sixty percent desire regulations comparable to those for tobacco cigarettes, while 19 percent seek FDA regulation at lower levels than with tobacco products.
Seventeen percent of respondents want no regulation, and 4 percent expressed no opinion.
E-cigarettes vaporize liquid from cartridge inserts – usually containing nicotine along with flavoring – that is inhaled by users.
No federal regulations currently exist, though some states have restricted their sale and use.
“Forty-eight states prohibit sales of electronic cigarettes to minors, as of December 2015,” Gallup noted. “Seven states include e-cigarettes in their definitions of ‘tobacco products’ in state statutes, as of May 2015. Fifteen states have at least one restriction on where e-cigarettes can be used.”
When asked about the health impact of e-cigarettes, a majority of respondents said that they were less harmful than tobacco cigarettes.
Forty-eight percent felt that they were less harmful than tobacco, 11 percent didn’t believe that they are harmful at all, and 33 percent said they were as harmful as traditional cigarettes.
Responses about whether to restrict e-cigarette use in certain settings were mixed.
A complete ban in restaurants was favored by 48 percent of survey participants, compared to workplaces (41 percent), hotels and motels (34 percent), bars (31 percent) and public parks (29).
Many wished to have designating areas set aside – restaurants (34 percent), workplaces (41 percent), hotels and motels (41 percent), bars (36 percent) and public parks (30 percent).
“Advocates of e-cigarettes, or vaping, say they are an effective smoking-cessation product, although the FDA has not approved e-cigarettes for this purpose,” Gallup stated. “Opponents argue that e-cigarettes are a gateway to regular cigarettes, particularly for young adults, and should be regulated the same way as tobacco products.”
The Journal of the American Medical Association published research in March 2014, which raised concerns about the connection between e-cigarette use and conventional smoking, particularly among adolescents.
“Use of e-cigarettes does not discourage, and may encourage, conventional cigarette use among U.S. adolescents,” the study concluded.
The full survey results are available here.