Smoking Norms and the Regulation of E-Cigarettes

Am J Public Health. 2015 Oct;105(10):1967-72. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2015.302764. Epub 2015 Aug 13.


Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS)-commonly called e-cigarettes-are at the center of a polarized debate. How should they be regulated? Central to this debate is the concern that e-cigarettes could lead to the renormalization of smoking and that the regulation of ENDS should therefore be modeled on the regulation of conventional cigarettes. I argue that arguments based on the renormalization of smoking can lend support to restrictions on marketing of ENDS, but that such arguments are problematic when used to justify restrictions on where ENDS can be used. The debate has been insufficiently sensitive to the ethical complexities of attempts to manipulate social norms to change health behaviors; these complexities must also inform the debate about ENDS and their regulation.

MeSH terms

  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems*
  • Humans
  • Marketing
  • Nicotine / administration & dosage
  • Smoking / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • World Health Organization


  • Nicotine