Tuesday, November 10, 2009

USA Today: Our opinion on public health: E-cigarettes pose risks

USA Today has picked up the e-cig issue. It seems everyone is talking about e-cigs these days. The question they ask, and that public health and tobacco control is asking is clear; is this stuff safe? Is it reasonable to deduce that because the product doesn't contain "tobacco" it is safe?  

Nobody knows and that is a problem. 

Manufacturer's of these products don't have the research to back up their claims. The USA Today editorial makes a few important points outlines below:
While both sides await a federal judge's ruling, e-cigarettes are on the market (kits with the e-cigarette and nicotine cartridges generally sell for $70 to $150). And contrary to the old adage, what you don't know can hurt you. Among the reasons to be wary:
— Most e-cigarettes are made in China, the source of lead-tainted toys and melamine-laced dog food. Need we say more about the need for oversight?
— When the FDA randomly tested the nicotine cartridges, it discovered carcinogens and a toxic chemical found in anti-freeze. Still, the most worrisome ingredient is nicotine itself. The FDA strictly regulates it in patches, gum and other smoking-cessation products, and it has banned nicotine lollipops and water. E-cigarettes deserve to be treated like other nicotine-delivery devices.
— E-cigarettes come in flavors — from traditional menthol to chocolate and strawberry — that might lure curious youngsters and prompt them to move on to the real thing. Distributors say their product is for adults only, but who's to stop young people from buying it? Only a few locales have banned sales to minors.
— Despite protests from the Electronic Cigarette Association that its members don't make claims about helping smokers quit, plenty of sellers make far more outrageous health claims. In recent weeks, one marketer claimed e-cigarettes reduce the risk of heart disease and touted an endorsement by a physician-and-nurses group. Another website, which says it reviews e-cigarettes, went them one better: It claims, based on a 1942 study, that an ingredient in e-cigarettes could prevent flu and other respiratory diseases.
The most important point that article makes is this, "All the public has to go on now is the word of the product's marketers. Before consumers inhale something that gives them "vapes" of highly addictive nicotine, they might want an independent authority testing the product to see what's in it." If the e-cig makers are anything like their Big Tobacco counterparts, truth in advertising is bent at the expensive of health and in the favor of profits. 

No comments: