30/09/2013 08:21 BST | Updated 28/11/2013 05:12 GMT

Time to Embrace The E-Cigarette

The e-cigarette has been steadily growing in popularity. Just last year the number of students using the device doubled. E-cigarettes are fast becoming a fixture of modern society. E-cigs are a form of electronic vaporizer which imitate the process of smoking. Commonly known as "vaping," e-cigs importantly do not release any of the harmful side effects of smoking (namely the inhalation of tobacco) whilst providing users with their nicotine fix. They should be championed by governments keen to promote a healthier society and appropriately regulated.

Consumers are fast switching from smoking to this alternative version for good reason: 440,000 people alone die each year in the United States due to smoking related diseases. Or to put it another way, a fifth of deaths in the US are attributable to smoking. If every single smoker in the country switched to an e-cig, one in three cancer deaths would never happen. Notwithstanding the secondary benefits of e-cig usage - they do not produce toxic ash or have a foul odor. They are completely harmless to bystanders.

So why is there growing hostility towards this device? Opponents of vaping, such as the comments made in article released by National Geographic earlier this week, are quick to point out that e-cigs may contain more than just nicotine. But the evidence supporting these claims is non-existent. As a study from the Food and Drug Administration stated e-cigs contain substantially fewer carcinogens than cigarettes. Of course, "vaping" is not entirely risk free, having a dependency to any substance can be dangerous. Yet an addiction to nicotine could be argued as not much worse than one to caffeine.

Judicious and balanced regulation is still necessary though. Now advocates of e-cigs are quick to suggest that any form of government regulation would stymie the adoption by potential vapor users. The real question they should be asking is: Who should e-cigs be intended for? Presently unregulated by the FDA, firms are marketing the products especially aimed towards kids with flavored versions including cotton candy and bubble gum. This shouldn't be allowed to occur. Any addictive substance from alcohol to nicotine must be kept out of the mouths of kids. But any regulation which does occur must be carefully balanced incase it smothers any chance of adult smokers transitioning to the device.

It's now time that we welcome e-cigarettes into the mainstream of society. They are a positive health and social enhancement. Like with all new products appropriate regulation is required. In this case, ensuring that an addictive substance is kept out of the reach of children. Ultimately though, we must encourage the transition to the e-cig and make "vaping" the new "puff."