The electronic cigarette is either a) a near-miraculous smoking-cessation tool that has enabled untold thousands of smokers to ditch tobacco or b) a rapidly growing menace to public health. Or, it could be both. Researchers aren't really sure and won't be until they can study the long-term health effects of vaping.
The FDA is still puzzling over how to regulate a $1.5-billion industry that has seen its sales more than quadruple over the past four years, leaving states and municipalities to feel things out on their own.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
In North Texas, a couple of cities are leaning toward tougher regulation, if not on the e-cigarette itself then on the increasingly ubiquitous storefronts that sell them. WFAA reported on Tuesday night that the Mansfield City Council voted unanimously to put a six-month moratorium on new e-cigarette stores while it considers where vaping fits into the city's smoking ordinance.
Further north, the city of Richardson is considering a rule requiring e-cig shops to obtain a specific use permit from the City Council before opening.
"We just want to make sure that it is appropriate for that location and that it will complement the other businesses and it's something we can be proud of -- that the community can support," assistant city manager Don Magner told CBS 11.
Eventually, the FDA will come out with rules governing the labeling and distribution of e-cigarettes, but cities will still be left to decide things like whether regulations like indoor smoking bans apply to vaping as well. That's when the debate will get really interesting.