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CVS Anti-Tobacco Move Possible Boon for Electronic Cigarettes?

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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An electronic cigarette in its charger

When retail giant CVS Caremark unveiled its announcement this morning that it will no longer sell cigarettes or other tobacco products in its stores it was rightly hailed as a boon for public health, even netting public praise – and a thank you – from the White House. But even as CVS said its decision was spurred by its efforts to provide health care to its consumers, the decision also raises questions about the future of traditional smokes’ tobacco-free cousin, electronic cigarettes.

Although CVS does not currently sell electronic cigarettes in its stores, its decision today has fueled speculation that it may sell the products in its more than 7,600 CVS/pharmacy stores in the future. CVS told Scientific American in an email, “We are monitoring what the FDA decides in regard to them,” a reference to the agency’s ongoing considerations about how to regulate the popular tobacco alternative. CVS plans to stop selling conventional tobacco products in its stores by October 1, 2014.

Meant to simulate the act of smoking through vaporizing a nicotine-laced solution into an aerosol mist, e-cigarettes have been gaining in popularity in recent years but have also come under fire for attracting youth users. The devices are not currently regulated as tobacco products or subject to the same restrictions that tobacco companies operate under. For example, an advertisement from an e-cigarette company aired in some communities during this year’s Super Bowl when such ads for conventional cigarettes have been banned for decades. Indeed, the science around electronic cigarettes continues to be divisive and its long-term impacts remain unknown.

Image: FDA

About the Author: Dina Fine Maron is the associate editor for health and medicine at Scientific American. Follow on Twitter @Dina_Maron.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. singing flea 6:25 pm 02/5/2014

    A few folks I talked to who use E-cigs tell me they are even more addictive than regular tobacco. Without the coughing, gagging and nasty second hand smoke,smokers (or is it drug users) tend to puff the delivery devices much more often to satisfy that urge created by nicotine. I smoked for many years and know only too well that E-cigs is just another ploy from unregulated big business to control peoples money. I wish I had a nickel for pack of cigarettes I bought.

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  2. 2. Owl905 8:08 pm 02/5/2014

    E-cigs are a lesser evil to cigarettes. They may be a lesser evil to the obesity trap for ex-smokers. The rest of the smokescreen thrown up to discredit the practice appears to care more about agendas than the health risk to smokers – both from smoking, and from post-addiction consequences.

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  3. 3. jonhuie 10:34 pm 02/5/2014

    Many items, including sugar, coffee, and alcohol, are both addictive and profitable. The only interesting question about e-cigs is whether they are significantly harmful to health.

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  4. 4. Spironis 7:04 pm 02/6/2014

    Has anybody added a source of ignition to the fogs to observe whether they ignite re dust explosions?

    E-cigs must be made mandatory for everybody. Mass consumption will lower the cost, provide fast dose nootropics for diversity children, and bolster low-evidence enhanced interrogation techniques for inconvenient citizenry. First, we desperately require innovation for colored fog exhalation.

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  5. 5. mwagner17 3:37 pm 02/10/2014

    Maybe but addiction is still addiction. Is the individual better off because they can enjoy their addiction more safely? Shouldn’t we be more concerned about the epidemic of substance abuse?

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  6. 6. Emilio6 12:47 pm 02/13/2014

    Thanks for nice article. Sometimes I wonder is it all about health or only tobacco companies profits…


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  7. 7. Mnestheus 12:32 am 02/20/2014

    Another reason to grow your own tobacco.

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