News on Electric Cigarettes

The same governor who banned trans fats and tried to do away with large sugary drink, New Yorkcity governor Michael Bloomberg, is concerned enough with public health that he is now working on getting electric cigarettes banned in New York. Several ordinances are in the works. One that would classify these cigarettes as tabacco products. California's legistlature is looking at doing the same thing as well.

Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association has let several drafts of proposed bills that the New York City Council will soon vote on slip out into the media. They want to redefine "tobacco products". Under the New York Law, they will ban the flavored "e-liquid' from being sold in retail stores or anywhere other than age restricted tobacco bars. This would prohibit even an e-cigarette store in New York from selling the flavored e-cigarettes. And the law also mandates that all e-cigarette products are sold only in their original packaging.

Right now, e-cigarette smokers are allowed to light these up in certain places, such as bars and other public establishments.

(CASFAA is a non-profit organization increasing public awareness,education and encouragingtesting and development of products to achieve exceptable safety standards.) They state: "An e-cigarette is safer for the people around the smoker but it still gives the smoker the nicotine they crave and is little help in eliminating the addiction." They also emphasize that e-cigarettes have not been approved by the FDA. But Why? I believe it's because the electronic cigarettes haven't been on the market for very long and little data is available about the other chemicals used.

On the subject of the chemical risks of electronic cigarettes, Michael Siegel, a tobacco researcher at Boston University said in a paper just published in the Journal of Public Health Policy, that levels of certain harmful chemicals in e-cigarettes were on par with levels found in nicotine patches and hundreds of times lower than what's found in cigarettes. But does this just mean that health implications will just take longer to appear?

In a study done by ASH (Action on Smoking and Health), e-cigarettes have caused a wide variety of potentially serious problems "including racing pulse, dizziness, slurred speech, mouth ulcers,heartburn, coughing, diarrhea, and sore throat." They found that users have to suck much harde on the electronic cigaretes, because over time they may increasingly want more nicotine. Aerosal density decreases much the same as with traditional tobacco cigarres. It's similar to smoking a "light" cigarette and then building up to a more concentrated option. This may make the aerosal reach deeper in the lungs, and this could also mean that smokers of e-cigarettes may need to smoke more to get the needed amount of nicotine.

John Banzhaf, Executive Director of Action on Smoking and Health found that the electric cigarettes do emit a mixture of nicotine (contributes to heart attacks), and propylen glycol, (which is a respiratory irritant used in anti-freeze and known to cause respiratory infections) and other things that the FDA has labeled as carcinogenic and toxic.

So what do these conclusions tell us? It seems that finding a new product that addresses one problem is okay, but it doesn't necessarily erase other ones that are as bad or worse.

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