E Cigarettes – Gaining Popularity Among Youth

| May 23, 2014
In a major scientific review of research on e-cigarettes, UC San Francisco scientists found that industry claims about the devices are unsupported by the evidence to date, including claims that e-cigarettes help smokers quit. The review marks the first comprehensive assessment of peer-reviewed published research into the relatively new phenomenon of electronic cigarettes.

The devices, which are rapidly gaining a foothold in popular culture particularly among youth, are marketed as a healthier alternative to tobacco smoking, as an effective tool to stop smoking, and as a way to circumvent smoke-free laws by allowing users to “smoke anywhere.” Often the ads stress that e-cigarettes produce only “harmless water vapor.”

But in their analysis of the marketing, health and behavioral effects of the products, which are unregulated, the UCSF scientists found that e-cigarette use is associated with significantly lower odds of quitting cigarettes. They also found that while the data are still limited, e-cigarette emissions “are not merely ‘harmless water vapor,’ as is frequently claimed, and can be a source of indoor air pollution.”

In tackling the question of whether e-cigarette use is helping or harming the nation’s tobacco control efforts, the authors analyzed 84 research studies on e-cigarettes and other related scientific materials. They concluded that e-cigarettes should be prohibited wherever tobacco cigarettes are prohibited and should be subject to the same marketing restrictions as conventional cigarettes.

The report also tackles secondhand exposure. “E-cigarettes do not burn or smolder the way conventional cigarettes do, so they do not emit side-stream smoke; however, bystanders are exposed to aerosol exhaled by the user,” said the authors. Toxins and nicotine have been measured in that aerosol, such as formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acetic acid and other toxins emitted into the air, though at lower levels compared to conventional cigarette emissions.

The scientists said their research illustrates the need for product regulation, which is why CADCA urges you to submit comments on the FDA proposed rules to regulate e-cigarettes, cigars and hookahs. The FDA is accepting public comments on the proposed regulation until July 9, 2014. Please take a few minutes to submit comments that reflect your knowledge and perspective on the issue. If you would like more information, the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium’s FDA Tobacco Project team has been developing resources related to the proposed regulation found on the deeming regulation resource page.

The paper was published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/129/19/1972.full. 

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Category: Health

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