HCBE Faculty Articles

E-Cigarettes: An Unfolding Legal, Ethical, and Practical Quandary


Frank J. Cavico0000-0002-6258-2136


Bahaudin Mujtaba0000-0003-1615-3100

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Journal of Psychology and Behavior Sciences



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This article explores the legal, ethical, and practical issues arising from the introduction and rapid growth of a controversial new tobacco product – the ecigarette. The article examines the laws – federal, state, local, and regulatory that apply, or could apply to e-cigarettes. Even if in some circumstances legal, the authors then analyze whether e-cigarettes are moral pursuant to four major Westernbased ethical theories. Particular attention is paid in the foregoing analyses to the marketing, advertising of this new tobacco product to minors. The implications of the emergence of e-cigarettes are discussed; and appropriate practical recommendations are offered to various stakeholders and groups affected by this product. A theme of this article is that e-cigarettes present a quandary, especially for government at all levels as well as employers, and including the writers of this article too, since there is not yet available definitive scientific information as to whether this popular new product is a beneficial or harmful one. Nevertheless, the federal Food and Drug Administration in the United States in April of 2014 proposed certain basic rules regarding the regulation of this new product. These rules are not law yet. The authors examine what the proposed rules do, and do not do, in regulating e-cigarettes. The authors strive to present in a fair and balanced manner all sides to this controversy and to conduct the legal and ethical analysis herein in a rational and logical manner.





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