Eight years after the first commercial e cigarettes land in the U.S., the FDA is still working to finalize rules for the category. E cigarettes remain in a kind of federal regulatory limbo, with states and municipalities left to issue their own rules. Unfortunately for vapers, these rules can vary from state to state, or even within a state. New Jersey, for example, regulates e cigarettes as tobacco products and bans vaping where smoking is prohibited. South Carolina, on the other hand, doesn’t classify e cigarettes as tobacco products, but allows municipalities to determine whether and how to enact regulations. You can vape freely in one county, but not in the next. It’s confusing, to say the least.
The gap between technological innovation and regulation isn’t so unusual, however. As new business models and tech-based products are launched, a decades-old regulatory structure often lacks the flexibility to adapt to emerging businesses.
Beyond E Cigarettes: The Sharing Economy And…Drones!
E cigarettes aren’t the only disruptive technology products to encounter this gap. There are many innovative products and services that have regulators scrambling to catch up.
What E Cigarettes And Uber Have In Common
Uber and similar transportation companies have been a godsend for many city residents, but regulatory confusion and delays represent speedbumps for the category. At issue are competition with existing taxi companies, insurance requirements, privacy, and permitting policies. Traditional taxicab drivers see Uber drivers as a threat to their livelihoods, while proponents think the newer transportation businesses mean healthy competition that creates better service for everyone.
The “Sharing Economy” Disrupts Status Quo
Airbnb has been a home away from home for tourists, business travelers, students, and even those struck by natural disasters. It’s also been a way for those living in very high-cost cities to earn extra income. However, the legal status for hosts is unclear in many U.S. states. There’s a laundry list of regulations one has the potential unwittingly violate, including individual building regulations, city zoning, administrative codes, and occupancy taxes.
New York City Attorney General Eric Schneiderman claims that 70% of all NYC Airbnb rentals are illegal. San Francisco, on the other hand, has approved a bill that legalizes “peer-to-peer” home-sharing with caveats: hosts must register with the city, pay a hotel tax, and carry insurance. Sounds 70% reasonable to us.
Can Non-Military Drones Take Off?
Yes, drones! They can be used for everything from surveillance to deliveries. But the future for
commercial drones is clouded with major concerns, like the risk of interference with manned aircraft. Although commercial drone use is largely prohibited, five companies have gained temporary permits to use drones on a test basis. Google is currently testing drone deliveries in Australia, and Amazon is reportedly engaged in drone tests at “undisclosed locations” outside the U.S.
3D Printers Are Unstoppable
The age of 3D printers, or additive layer manufacturing, was ushered in by Makerbot in 2009. This new technology excited the world with its potential for applications in manufacturing, space, medical, and education. 3D designs can be as simple as a smartphone case, or as sophisticated as an artificial kidney. 3D printing is a disruptive technology with huge potential for good, but also carries negative implications for intellectual property, consumer and public safety and infrastructure.
E cigarettes Manufacturers Are Constantly Innovating
While regulations are essential for any of the above categories, including e cigarettes, government shouldn’t slow innovation by trying to force it into an archaic rules structure. Legislators need to support progress while protecting the public safety, so that continuous innovation, like improving e cigarette technology, is a win-win for all.
Tags: electronic cigarettes