Is it right to regulate electronic cigarettes?

Electronic cigarettes have grown massively in popularity during the past few years with many smokers making the switch from tobacco to these clever devices. The electronic cigarette market in the UK is growing rapidly and is worth hundreds of millions of pounds.

Due to the rise in popularity of these devices, sales of tobacco and NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy) products have dwindled, leading to lost tax revenue for the UK government and also a loss in profits for tobacco companies and pharmaceutical companies.

Such is the popularity of electronic cigarettes, British American Tobacco (BAT) have actually acquired their own electronic cigarette brand and are pushing the UK government to regulate the sale of electronic cigarettes. This could be for many reasons but it seems clear that the reason that they are doing this is because they know that they are the only company large enough to be able to invest millions of pounds into clinical trials and research and development in order to prove the effectiveness of quitting smoking by using electronic cigarettes. Quite simply, BAT want to make sure that they are the only company legally allowed to sell these devices in order to completely eradicate all competition. It seems that this is quite feasible due to the fact BAT are worth billions of pounds and the largest electronic cigarette company is only worth a few million. I mean, how could anyone compete with BAT?

Whilst regulation could have some benefits such as making sure that all electronic cigarettes that are sold are of high quality and not likely to cause injury, it seems that the main reason for regulating them is to wipe out competition and help increase profits of tobacco companies, pharmaceutical companies and to also increase tax revenue for the government.

Companies such as BAT have huge clout when it comes to influencing the government. Even just a few months ago it came out in the newspapers that the reason David Cameron decided not to ban branding on cigarette packets was because tobacco companies are huge donors to the government. Could the new plan for regulation of electronic cigarettes be due to a similar situation? It seems so.

So the question is: are electronic cigarettes being regulated because they have the potential to be dangerous, or is it because large, multi-billion pound companies and the UK government are loosing money? The answer seems to be all too clear and proof again that money rules the world.