So you’re ready to quit smoking cigarettes. That’s great. It’s one of the best things you can do for yourself for a better, healthier future. You’ve looked at all the ways there are to quit smoking including cold turkey, patches, gum, help groups, the whole gamut, and none of them are “you.” Then, through the magic of technology, you stumble across the e-cigarette, the electronic cigarette, and it looks like the answer to all your quitting needs. Let’s take a look at what the e-cigarette is and some things you need to know before you buy one. There is one VERY important thing you need to know before you buy one online!
E-cigarettes appeared on the market about five or six years ago, and sales in the U.S. have surged in the past three years as enthusiasm for the alternative to smoking tobacco has skyrocketed. The e-cigarette is an electronic device used to deliver a vaporized solution of nicotine to the inhaler. They usually look and feel like a cigarette, even including a glowing LED tip that lights when the e-cigarette is used. The nicotine is delivered from a nicotine solution cartridge, which is consumed in the process and must be periodically replaced. For the smoker, the inhalation actually gives a feel of inhaling a puff of smoke and the exhaled vapor is visible like smoke. There are also flavor cartridges in various flavors.
So, what’s not to love? E-cigarettes look, feel, and “smoke” almost like the real thing, and you’re not taking burning smoke into your lungs. Well, to date there are no scientific studies, governmental or otherwise, that indicate that e-cigarettes are an effective, safe alternative to smoking, nor that they are effective smoking cessation aids. In fact, in the U.S., the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has determined e-cigarettes to be a drug delivery system and therefore, regulated under FDA guidelines. While they have not been officially banned, e-cigarettes are very much “on the radar screen” with the FDA and further regulation is likely in the pipelines. So, what’s that got to do with your online purchase of e-cigarettes?
When you go to a website that offers e-cigarettes for sale, you will be purchasing from a company that is usually located here in the U.S. Again, sales of e-cigarettes are not banned in the U.S. However, due to FDA’s regulatory stance, imports of e-cigarettes are. This can be a problem with your online purchase of e-cigarettes, and here’s why.
There are no U.S. manufacturers of e-cigarettes. To the best of my knowledge, the only factories making e-cigarettes are located in China. Certainly, there are U.S. suppliers, but no factories making e-cigs. What that means to you can be problematic. If you purchase your e-cigarette from a U.S. based supplier, there is no guarantee that your purchase will be shipped from a domestic source. Starting to see the problem?
Should your e-cigarette purchase be shipped to you from the online seller’s domestic supply, you shouldn’t encounter any problems, but…
If your online purchase is “drop-shipped” directly from the online vendor’s supplier, again, in China, you will find yourself confronting the FDA ban on imports of e-cigarettes. What this means to you is that, most likely, you will never receive your goods. Whether you will be able to recoup your purchase will then become a matter of how honorable your vendor is, not a good place to be in when you consider that you purchased online. Of course, if you purchased your e-cigarette using your credit card, you do have additional options. Still, you can see the risk you undertake by making your e-cig purchase online. One suggestion would be to ask the vendor to verify that your purchase will be shipped domestically, of course, but even then, you are relying on the vendor to be true to their word.
At this point, I cannot advocate nor discourage you to try e-cigarettes as an alternative to smoking, but if you DO choose to try e-cigarettes, protect yourself when you make your online purchase. If your vendor doesn’t have a domestic supply or supplier, you may find that you not only don’t receive your purchase, but also that you’re out the money you spent to get it.