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E-Cigarettes: New Potential Dangers For Users and a New Ban in Singapore
An important study has found new and previously unsuspected potential health problems for users of e-cigarettes [e-cigs] in addition to the many already reported by the FDA.
Also, Singapore has joined a growing list of jurisdictions which have banned the product, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf, Executive Director of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). E-cigs have already been banned in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Mexico, and New Zealand, restricted in Finland and Malaysia, are pending restriction in the UK as a drug, and the subject of law suits by attorneys general in several states. In part as a result of urging by ASH, New Jersey and Suffolk County, NY, have prohibited their use in no-smoking sections, and New York is also moving to ban them.
The new study from the University of California found that users have to suck much harder on e-cigs than on conventional tobacco ones. This creates "possible adverse effects on human health" because users are likely to suck much harder and inhale more nicotine -- the same problem of "compensatory smoking" which made so-called "light" cigarettes dangerous. "It is too early to know exactly what effect stronger inhaling and diminishing amounts of aerosol will have on human health, but these factors are likely to lead to compensatory smoking, as has been seen previously with 'light' tobacco cigarettes,”
The researchers also concluded that the claims made for this product -- which the FDA has declared is "illegal," and which therefore does not regulate such claims for accuracy -- are false or at least misleading. “Our work shows that aerosol density decreases as e-cigarettes are used, requiring stronger puffs over time to sustain density,” the researchers found. “Manufacturers often claim that e-cigarettes cartridges are equivalent to a certain number of conventional cigarettes. However, this information seems misleading.”
The researchers identified at least two new major potential health concerns regarding e-cigs. “An important implication [of the finding] is that users must exert greater inhalation pressure and, therefore, it may predictably cause the aerosol to reach deeper tissue in the user’s lungs. As in the case of conventional harm reduction cigarettes with lower nicotine content, users of e-cigarettes may also need to smoke greater numbers of puffs to receive sufficient amounts of nicotine to satisfy their craving."
Banzhaf was the first to direct attention to the potential health risks to people in the vicinity of e-cig users, since both the product and the users emit into the air a mixture of nicotine (a deadly and addictive drug which can contribute to fatal heart attacks), propylene glycol (a respiratory irritant used in antifreeze and known to cause respiratory tract infections), and other substances the FDA has labeled "carcinogenic"
Recently, reported Banzhaf, some e-cig sellers have begun to sell e-cigs dispensing Ciallis and even potent forms of marijuana. "Manufacturers should not be able to foist off on the public, and use both customers and those around them as human guinea pigs, for new products which dispense nicotine or other dangerous drugs which haven't been tested -- much less approved -- by any agency," argues ASH.
ASH does not oppose the sale and use of e-cigs entirely, but only their use without any testing and approval by the FDA, with no warnings, quality controls, restrictions on their sale to children, etc.
Indeed, ASH assumes that, if e-cigs meet the criteria established for such products by the FDA, they will become available to smokers wishing to quit in much the same way as nicotine gums, patches, sprays, inhalers, and other nicotine replacement products are currently available, having been tested and approved by the FDA.
PROFESSOR JOHN F. BANZHAF III
Professor of Public Interest Law at GWU,
FAMRI Dr. William Cahan Distinguished Professor,
FELLOW, World Technology Network, and
Executive Director and Chief Counsel
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
America’s First Antismoking Organization
2013 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006, USA
(202) 659-4310 // (703) 527-8418
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Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), America's first anti-smoking and nonsmokers' rights organization, serves as the legal action arm of the anti-smoking community. It is supported by tax-deductible contributions.