To answer the OP's question: If ecigs were banned what would you do?
My answer: I would change nothing, would keep doing exactly what I am doing now. Ecigs in and of themselves (ie as a complete entity) cannot be banned in the States (I cannot speak for other countries).
My thinking behind the answer:
The three ingredients in my "e-liquid": glycerine, propylene glycol, and "lorann" flavoring (or other similar flavor) are and will continue to be completely legal and available in all 50 states (and most places around the world).
On the hardware side of things:
You can build an ecig with $15.00 of hardware purchased from Radio Shack, or Mouser Electronics, or Digikey. I know because I have done this.
The nichrome wire used to create the vapor is also available worldwide.
Non combustable wick? Any aromatherapy shop, or camping supply store will have this material.
I can provide links to youtube videos showing all sorts of individuals that have already accomplished this small feat, up to and including the atomizer (ie the thing that makes the vapor). Just let me know!
None of this hardware is sophisticated. Honestly it is a wonder that these devices weren't invented sooner!
The only ingredient that could be "banned" (read: regulated) is the chemical nicotine itself. Those that still 'think' they need nicotine (I am framing this using your own logic, since need for nicotine is mostly a test of willpower/resolve from your POV) could use a zero-nic ecig and bite on nic gum, or lozenge, or even a patch. It is all OTC right now. Seems silly at first, but I know others that do exactly this, use the ecig to quench their ritual cravings, and get their nicotine from another source entirely.
Should the current system of free (free as in speech, not free as in beer) nicotine e-liquid availability be quashed, it will be regulated by the FDA and other authorities and then doled out in "measured doses", most likely provided in the States by Big Tobacco (they have all of that raw material and would love to ingratiate themselves with the FDA and political entities). Plus they have the money to fund a full FDA study on the matter in order to gain approval.
Hmmm, maybe pfizer would be tops on this list instead?
One way or another, the public will demand an ecig that has gone thru the legal trials and tribulations if a "ban" is put into effect. Thus the ecig cannot be truly banned, only made available in a regulated form when it contains nicotine.
We need only revisit the 1920s to see what happens when the government tries to ban a substance (then alcohol) that was formerly freely available. The whole apparatus was trashed quietly with the passage of the 21st amendment. Here is literally how 'quietly' it was resolved:
Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.
Big Tobacco *OR* Big Pharma could easily start up production lines on their own "FDA approved" nicotine cartridges. Not really the outcome I'd be looking for, but it does help frame your argument.
Bottom line: you just cannot ban anything in a zero-nic ecig. Canada bans e-liquid containing nicotine (officially), but ALL
other hardware and zero-nic e-liquid is still available with age restrictions (which is appropriate). Should a "ban" go into effect here, it will be exactly the same.
I have no need to go back to smoking cigs, and no desire.
To me this is exactly the same question as "can water bongs be banned"? Pipes? Hookas? The answer (in the States at least) is no. The government has criminalized the substance that is associated predominantly with this hardware, but the hardware itself cannot, as it has non-cannabinoid uses (like smoking tobacco and legal herbs).
So where does that leave us?
1. You cannot ban nicotine outright, only regulate it.
The only way you could realistically ban nicotine is to ban sales of cigarettes. We both know that isn't going to happen any time soon.
2. You cannot ban hardware.
I find it VERY difficult to believe that anybody would seriously attempt to criminalize possession and use of a non-nicotine ecig in the States. Even the ardent believers of the nicodemon only think this is a really dumb way to spend money. (ie why pay $34.00 when a straw will do just as well?)
The countries that currently ban ecigs have many other motives (mainly taxes, see my earlier post on this subject) and are using the lack of studies to suppress ecigs in their jurisdictions. I really, truly believe that these concerns will be fleshed out, just like long-term NRT will be approved (my belief).
Sorry for the novella folks...