Electronic cigarettes have hit the American market with force, and their use has increased dramatically in just a few years. The tobacco industry has gotten into the game, bringing big money into e-cigarette marketing. At ASH, we welcome products that have been proven to help smokers quit, and a number of FDA approved products are available on the market. But we are not yet convinced that e-cigarettes are indeed that type of product and we remain concerned by the lack of regulation surrounding e-cigarettes. As a science-based advocacy group, we believe there are simply too many unknowns about e-cigarettes.
Here is what we do NOT know
Whether e-cigs help smokers quit. There are some anecdotal stories of ex-smokers who could not quit until they tried e-cigarettes, but there is no substantiating research yet to corroborate this claim.
The impact on children. According to the CDC the number of teenagers using e-cigs has doubled. Are kids now becoming nicotine addicts without ever picking up a cigarette? Will some of them switch to regular cigarettes at a later stage? We don’t know enough about what impact e-cigs have on initiation into nicotine addiction.
The contents of the vapor. The marketing is aimed at making consumers think e-cigarettes just emit water vapor, but they do not. There is some strong evidence that the vapor contains toxins and carcinogens, and because there are dozens of unregulated manufacturers, it is impossible to know what exactly is being inhaled by the people who are exposed to vapor from e-cigarette users.
The health impact on users. Without knowing their ingredients, we cannot know the health effects that result from e-cigarette usage or exposure. While e-cigarette companies claim they are safe, they have no scientific evidence to corroborate this claim either.
Here is what we DO know
E-cigarettes are aggressively marketed to children, with flavors like bubble gum and cotton candy. The marketing is disturbingly similar to past cigarette marketing that is now illegal.
E-cigarettes are nicotine delivery devices. Nicotine is highly addictive, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) – http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/tobacco-addiction/nicotine-addictive.
The Food and Drug Administration is researching e-cigarettes in order to determine safe and necessary regulations (like all other products we ingest), but no official government regulations can be expected for at least three years.
Here is ASH’s stance
If e-cigarettes are safe, the e-cig companies should prove it. At present, they are in the business of selling an addictive drug, and they are targeting children. For now, while the safety of e-cigs remains in doubt, they should be s treated like cigarettes. This means:
• No “vaping” in places that ban smoking;
• No advertisements on television, radio, or billboards;
• No marketing to children whatsoever;
• No sales to children, with procedures in place to prevent children from buying e-cigs on the Internet;
• No misleading health claims.
Utah, North Dakota, New York City, and other governments in the U.S. and abroad already regulate e-cigarettes, and ASH encourages all jurisdictions to do the same. We, along with many other public health and regulatory organizations, also urge the FDA to move as quickly as possible to regulate e-cigarettes at the national level and to protect the health of everyone.
The FDA on e-cigarettes:
The World Health Organization (WHO) on e-cigarettes: http://www.who.int/tobacco/communications/statements/eletronic_cigarettes/en/
Studies on E-Cigarettes
– E-Cig Briefing Paper
E-Cigarettes in the News
– 45 State Attorneys General Call for Tobacco Carve Out
– Dangers of E-Cigs
– Chicago Bans Indoor E-Cigs
– New York City Bans Indoor E-Cigs
– A Hot Debate Over E-Cigarettes as a Path to Tobacco, or From It
– Utah Bans E-Cigs like Cigarettes