Saturday, April 25, 2009

E-cigarettes: Harm reduction or just another dangerous product?

A recent call to our office prompted us to look further into the emerging issue of "e-cigarettes."

A group of public health advocates has urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to pull e-cigarettes (or electronic cigarettes) from sale in the United States.

Right now, e-cigarettes can be purchased in kiosks across the country and on the Internet. The FDA has not approved the use of e-cigarettes and there are no controls to monitor the age of purchasers. E-cigarettes are often made to look like conventional tobacco products and are marketed to kids by producing them in fruit flavors.

A united group of public health advocates, including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, sent out a press release commending Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey for demanding that the FDA remove e-cigarettes from the marketplace. FDA officials have been quoted in the past few weeks saying e-cigarettes are a "new drug" that needs to be approved by the government before it can be sold.

An excerpt from the press release:

"Makers and retailers of these products have been making unproven health claims about their products, claiming that they are safer than normal cigarettes and asserting that they can help people to quit smoking. Absent scientific evidence, these claims are in blatant violation of FDA rules."

Check back for updates!


Yolanda V said...

E-cigarettes are not a product of Big Tobacco. They are not a product of Big Pharm either. That's why so many health groups are being so misled, or being so disingenuos, as to condemn them, when they are harm reduction devices that could save the lives of many thousands should they switch to them from smoking killer cigarettes.

Please take another look. Read what Dr. Joel Nitzkin, Chair of the Tobacco Control Task Force for the American Association of Public Health Physicians, has to say.

Read what David Sweanor has to say:

And read what Dr. Michael Siegel, a public health physician at the Boston University School of Public Health, has to say:

Bill Godshall, the Director of Smokefree Pennslyvannia, also heartily endorses e-cigarettes and other smokefree harm reduction products as well.

E-Cigarettes are not meant for children! Of course their should be regulation in place to keep them out of the hands of children. They are instead meant for the hundreds of thousands of adults who have been addicted to smoking cigarettes, the majority who have tried and failed, using many different means, and many times, to overcome this terrible addiction.

Finally there is something that is orders of magnitude less harmful, that delivers nicotine without the deadly products of combustion and without ANY SMOKE whatsoever, and it is incomprehensible that so many refuse to see the reality. Whether it is simply shortsightedness, lack of real knowledge of the devices, or born of economic motivations, those attempting to kill access to e-cigarettes ought to be ashamed.

Vicks in WI said...

I am ashamed to be a Wisconsite. This article is intrinsically flawed on several major points that I wish to clarify. Many people, including myself, have turned to alternate nicotine delivery devices, stepping away from traditional tobacco products, which keep us chained to a dirty delivery method which statistically kills half of its users. My cleaner method: the Electronic Cigarette, or E-Cig, the product featured in your article.

This device uses a small battery and atomizer, which takes a solution of nicotine suspended in Propylene Glycol, and vaporizes it for inhalation by the user. An exhaled “cloud” contains only harmless water vapor. There is no smoke, second-hand or otherwise, no tar being inhaled into the lungs, and no ash or spent butts for litter, as there is nothing being burned by the device. The fluid used comes in different flavors and strengths of nicotine, and users can even choose “no-nic” fluids when they are ready to step away from the addiction.

I fear for the future of this devise, which has been my Holy Grail to quit a 20+ year addiction to cigarettes. These have recently come to the attention of the FDA, who last month issued a statement claiming that the devise and the liquid it uses are classified as “new drugs” and not approved.

And, it gets worse: legislation called the Waxman/Kennedy Bill has passed the House and is up for debate in the Senate later this year. This bill would hand control of all things containing nicotine to the FDA. What concerns me are the underlying concessions in the bill: The FDA would be allowed regulate nicotine content in cigarettes, but not to ban them outright; thus tobacco would maintain superior position over the US nicotine market, actually protected by the FDA. Anything poised to shake that position, such as the E-Cig and other harm reduction products, would be put to near-impossible standards set by the FDA to bring their products to market, as the agency would be reluctant to approve new methods of recreational nicotine use. In plain English: this bill would continue to allow a deadly product to be sold while suppressing any alternate products considered by many users to be a safer alternative. Philip Morris, producers of the Marlboro brand of cigarettes, has publicly supported this bill for unstated reasons.

If my E-Cig is banned, I will be back to the 2 choices offered all cigarette smokers: quit or die. Traditional Nicotine Replacement Therapies do nothing to address the physical components of smoking (the inhale, the hand-to-mouth, and the oral fixation) and thus have an abysmal 5% success rate. Clearly, not a product line for the masses, nor one for me. The bottom line: I will smoke tobacco again if my E-Cig is banned.

Anonymous said...

i don't think big tobacco is running this operation. I think its a real free enterprise operation

Atac said...

I live in WI and this story is an embarassment! You really need to check your facts. And you need the rest of the story ... I had smoked for 34 years. 2 packs a day and was able to quit because of my e cig. How can that be a bad thing? Let's pick on somebody else for a while.

Anonymous said...

I hate to admit this but "Big Tobacco" has nothing to do with this product. It was devloped in china. And Big Tobacco seems to be a bit upset about them. I have been around a few people who use them and I can't find anything wrong with them. They don't bother me at all. I think that anything that gets people to smoke less is a good thing. And I have yet to see any blatent ads campaigns aimed at kids.

H said...

Don't be too quick to dismiss e-cigs. I bought one 5 months ago and completely gave up smoking real cigarettes within a few days. I'd tried (and failed) to quit so many times before. This thing is a miracle-worker for me.

Anonymous said...

Are you guys THAT ill-informed, or are you just liars?

I have never seen these marketed to kids and the tobacco companies are NOT behind them.

Anonymous said...

It would be really nice if you spoke to a few people who have quit smoking all together using this new device before you jump on the ban it bandwagon. Does it need to be regulated? Sure. But its working for a lot of us, and that holds merit. If you are so concerned about the health of our youth,ban coke machines in schools (caffeine is a DRUG), and ban all fatty foods, since obesity is taking the place of cancer as our number one killer. I also would love to know where kids will get the 100+ dollars to try the noncancerous e-cig in the first place when a pack of cancer smokes costs 5 bucks.
All I ask is that people educate themselves before banning something that can, and is, saving lives. Its water vapor and nicotine- like taking a shower with the nicotine patch on your arm.

Anonymous said...

Please stop telling lies about E cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes have NOTHING to do with Big Tobacco. They are an alternative to smoking and to tobacco. Many smokers have, in fact, stopped using tobacco in favor of electronic cigarettes. As for the marketing of e cigarettes, well the hypocrisy never ends, does it? Nicorette is marketed in fruity flavors, cinnamon surge, and arctic blasts. Nicorette can be sold to children at the corner store. Nicorette is a gateway drug to cigarettes since middle schoolers could chew on it during study hall then graduate to smoking after school. So, you don't like e cigarettes? So what! Do you have proof anywhere that Big Tobacco is marketing electronic cigarettes, or can you just somehow legally make that claim because you feel like it?

Charles Lam said...

here is something i read, sounds like it holds some water...tell me if i am wrong.

"So the record remains intact. Every national anti-smoking group which has called for a ban on electronic cigarettes has a financial conflict of interest with Big Pharma. Moreover, these conflicts of interest have not been disclosed in the policy statements issued by these organizations. Here, the American Legacy Foundation has issued a policy statement on e-cigarettes without disclosing that it receives funding from Pfizer, which stands to lose financially from the continued sale of these products, which are now directly competing with Pfizer products for the smoking cessation market."