E-cigarettes, increasingly popular nicotine delivery systems, have been touted as a safe alternative to conventional cigarettes and a smoking cessation tool, but now that they have become popular (more teens are using them than cigarettes, writes the American Council on Science and Health), they have become a polarizing subject, with studies in favor of — or against — the products.

Products is the operative word. There are thousands of homemade brewers who spent a few hundred dollars on a vat of diluted nicotine and declared themselves vaping entrepreneurs, there are no manufacturing or safety standards, and some vaping liquids contain completely unnecessary diacetyl, which causes "popcorn lung" disease. Zealots have made it into a libertarian issue and a conspiracy one - anyone who argues for safe products must be shills for Big Pharma or Big Tobacco or Big Whatever - but even the most capitalistic of policymakers will ignore the fringes, because if the product is good responsible legislation will wipe out shoddy groups, not the good ones, and the free market will win.

As long as e-cigarettes are being used to reduce harm from cigarettes, or quit them altogether, that is good but the fact that more kids use them now than cigarettes is a worrisome trend. They can't all be kids quitting smoking and that means they may be kids getting addicted to nicotine after uptake as a fad. It's too late to do anything about kids getting addicted to Starbucks and Red Bull but there is a way to prevent many of them from getting addicted to nicotine; outlaw them for minors and put in enough standards that rubbish groups who are bypassing safety issues to line their pockets can't do it any more.

Debate over e-cigarettes; helpful tool or harmful product? by Don Gilman, St. George News