Tuesday, September 24, 2013

E-Cigarettes: Rush To Regulate Could Destroy Effective Alternative

Washington DC -- Last week, several organizations sent a joint letter to the President, asking him to order the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to promptly assert authority over all tobacco products not currently under its jurisdiction. The organizations imply that the delay is resulting in negative health consequences. However, they never mention any specific consequences, and for a good reason: They are proposing a "solution" where no problem exists. Instead, enacting regulations without sufficient scientific evidence has the potential to do a great deal of harm to public health.

The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA) is writing the president today to urge him to advise the FDA to take the time needed to develop science-based regulations that will serve the interests of public health. CASAA is a non-profit organization that works to ensure the availability of low-risk alternatives to smoking and to provide smokers and non-smokers alike with truthful information about such alternatives.

In 2009, four of the organizations that signed last week's letter--the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, and the American Heart Association--jointly pressured the FDA to remove electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) from the market. The FDA tried to do so until a Federal Court Judge ruled that e-cigarettes cannot be regulated (and thus banned) as a drug unless therapeutic claims are made.

"Had these organizations succeeded in their efforts to prevent the sale of e-cigarettes in the U.S.," stated CASAA president, Elaine Keller, "hundreds of thousands of former smokers would still be lighting up. Almost all e-cigarette consumers are former smokers who tried to quit by using some or all of the products and methods these organizations tout and kept relapsing. The option to switch to a low-risk product that is a satisfying substitute for smoking has made a smoke-free life possible for those who had almost given up all hope of ever being able to quit smoking."

In their letter to the president, the organizations cite the recent report on youth use of e-cigarettes by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as proof that students in grades 6 through 12 are taking up use of e-cigarettes at an alarming rate. This misrepresents the findings.

Only 2.1% of the youth had taken so much as one puff from an e-cigarette recently. As far as we know from that survey, none of them are using e-cigarettes daily, in contrast with the millions of youth who are known to smoke. The CDC did not report the daily use statistics for e-cigarettes, or even whether the e-cigarettes being tried contain nicotine.

How do these statistics compare to recent smoking of conventional cigarettes? The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has published, "Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Finding." According to the SAMHSA report, past month cigarette use among youths aged 12 to 17 fell from 9.1 percent in 2009 to 6.8 percent by 2012 for males and from 9.3 percent to 6.3 percent for females. Furthermore, the rate of initiation of smoking among youths in the same age group fell from 6.3 percent to 4.7 percent for males and from 6.2 percent to 4.8 percent for females.

CASAA's Scientific Director, Dr. Carl V. Phillips, pointed out, "Those who want to ban e-cigarettes make up any claim they can think of, regardless of whether there is evidence to support it. If e-cigarette use really caused kids to start smoking and there really was an alarming use of e-cigarettes by youth, we would see an increase in kids smoking, the opposite of the actual trend.

"Someone who would try an e-cigarette but would avoid smoking presumably is motivated by avoiding the risk of smoking. The only reason I can see for someone to make the unfortunate transition from e-cigarette use to smoking would be if e-cigarettes were to become less accessible or deliberately made less attractive, which, ironically, could be the result if the type of excessive regulations urged by these organizations is enacted."

The CDC provided no data to suggest that youth were using candy or fruit flavors at all, let alone that those flavors have particular appeal to youth. Yet the organizations that have been trying to stop the sale of e-cigarettes claim that pleasant flavors are a clever ploy to attract youth to use the products. They tie this claim to the CDC results even though those results are completely silent on the issue and, indeed, there are no data to support the claim at all.

It should also be noted that most adults begin using tobacco or menthol flavor e-cigarettes, trying to match the taste of their favorite brand of conventional cigarettes. Many who give up on this (usually unreachable) goal of perfectly mimicking cigarettes switch to more interesting flavors, and  soon find that they no longer enjoy tobacco and/or menthol flavors. This appears to be an important part of why so many who have transitioned completely to e-cigarettes find they have no longer have any urge to smoke, even if they eventually wean all the way off nicotine.

"A rush to regulate, without having gathered sufficient scientific data, would have a devastating impact on public health," notes CASAA President Elaine Keller. "Anything that would reduce the availability of the e-cigarettes to adults or reduce their acceptability as a replacement for smoking will cost lives, not save them."


Lisa Bell said...

Factual, intelligent, truthful and to anyone with a sense of fairness, what is stated here is just.

Randall Davis said...

The US govt. has a bad habit that they need to break...and that is, shooting from the hip, when it comes to bringing things into legislation! They need to give the FDA ample time to study the long term effects of ecigarettes on the general public, before passing legislation.This whole vilifying ecigarettes before they are studied properly is getting to be old hat for the govt.It's coming down to telling the American public that they know whats good for us, and to stay out of it!! That's not how our govt. works!! The American people have all the say;if they would only voice there opinion;instead of sitting on there hands and waiting for someone to do the right thing!!....If you leave it to the govt.they will do what they want and hang the rest! Come on people and let your voices be heard;fight for your rights!! because now days the govt.'s all about taking your rights away.

Shane White said...

They should take away flavored alcohol then. This is ridiculous. Although not anymore dangerous than coffee, we should make be able to make our own decisions. We the people are the government. Well it used to be.

Tom G said...

"authority over all tobacco products". E-cigs are NOT a tobacco product

Amit Aggarwal said...

So totally agree with this article. Everything has a pro and a con. Depending on if something has many more advantages than disadvantages, you want people to use that. If anything needs to be only allowed if it 100% safe then everything should be banned - cars, planes, or anything that has risk. People die everyday in car accidents. Does that mean cars should be banned before they are 100% safe. It is absolutely incredible and ludicrous when without any data, people start making claims. There are thousands and thousands of people who will swear on their life that after they switched to e-cigs, they are feeling healthier. Are these people really all been bought by the tobacco companies.. What a shame!!!

Amit Aggarwal said...

In the last statement, I mean, are all these organizations and people who make this claim been bought by tobacco companies.

Dale Van Droof said...

Electronic cigarettes or NV's (nicotine vaporizers) should not be regulated as a tobacco product simply because of the fact they contain NO tobacco! They should have their own classification as a nicotine vaporizer or NV with sensible regulations specific to the product. Most vapers and vapor product vendors would agree that all nicotine vaporizer products should be regulated to keep them out of the hands of juveniles and responsibly sold to consenting adults that smoke and are looking for a quality alternative for traditional tobacco cigarettes. To ban electronic cigarettes or nicotine vaporizers without sufficient evidence to justify such an act would jeopardize the health of hundreds of thousands of US citizens that have already successfully made the switch to using them exclusively, leaving people no choice but to return to using traditional tobacco cigarettes, which are proven to cause cancer, lung disease and a myriad of equally dangerous and potentially deadly diseases and or health problems. There have been numerous studies released within the last 6 months providing evidence for little to no adverse health effects caused by the inhalation of vaporized nicotine from these devices and or the second hand vapor released from the lungs of nicotine vaporizer or electronic cigarette users proving that much more research on the long term use effects of these devices is necessary to make a fair, accurate, and responsible decision as to whether or not a ban is necessary.

Itsatushy said...

I am very grateful for e cigarettes. I had tried everything to quit, pills, patches, cold turkey, you name it, I tried it. I smoked from age thirteen to age 35. I had given up quitting. I knew it was bad for me but I live in a "free" county and besides coffee smoking was my only vice left from a pretty wild youth. It was that little pleasure I had to get my through a stressful life. I had quit so many other bad things I figured heck with it.

It has been nearly eleven monthes since I touched a regular cigarette. I met a couple while on vacation out of the country. They kept standing with the smokers but had these weird things I had never seen before. They explaned to me how they had to quit normal smoking due to emphysema, but enjoyed smoking so they switched and their doctor was pleased with the change and they were feeling physically better.

After a month of research online I said what the heck, I have tried and failed before what's one more thing that dose not work? I got my first e cigarette on Dec 15 2012. Walking to the mail box that day I had, what I did not know at the time, was my last regular cigarette.

I am still in awe, I started smoking so young and so long ago that I did not really remember what the world smelled like, or what foods tasted like... best part, I can hike and breath. My lungs do not burn trying to bring in oxygen. My chronic sinus problems are gone, and I switched with getting severely depressed and crying for no reason like times I tried before.

It would be a crime to take this option away from exsmokers who have become vapers.

Itsatushy said...

Edit, "switched without getting"
darn you auto correct.

Huston Warner said...

For one we need to quit calling them cigarettes. Since the classification of a cigarette is something you light with a match and create combustion. Start calling them ENDS. Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems.

Nancy said...

I quit smoking with a personal vaporizer over 4 years ago, the health benefits were immediate and amazing. Within a week I felt so MUCH better. They need to leave this alone and concentrate on the medicines and vaccinations and the things they are allowing into our foods that are much more hazardous to our health.

Ryan said...

This is all about money guys. Big tobacco is loosing money and big tobacco is directly connected to the government. Who the hell trusts the FDA! Every other commercial on tv is for a class action lawsuit for a drug they approved! E-cigs work and aren't going anywhere but you have to think about population control and the lack of people that are going to need all those cancer drugs and treatments. That's a lot of money lost! The government is going to get their money one way or another guys, so expect e-cos to become even more expensive than analogs

JD4x4 said...

Bravo. Eloquent and succinct.
Thank you Elaine and Dr. Phillips.
Now let's all help and hope that it gets picked up and widely quoted.

Donna Conger said...

People need to get more informed about e-cigarettes before trashing them. I have been using them for going on 3 years now with no adverse effects. I no longer have a chronic cigarette cough and can breathe much easier. I do no smoke any regular cigarettes and do not even desire to. I was a 50 year smoker, so I know first hand how well these work to help you get off of cigarettes. I have also lowered my nicotine use with the help of the e-cigarette. I just hope people don't ruin all the good things that have came out of the use of these e-cigarettes.

Autumn Black said...

I love my NV/ENDS (whatever we want to call them). I have only been using it for 4 weeks but for the first time in 4 years I strongly dislike the smell and taste of cigarettes. I really hope a informed decision is made and that they are here to stay. Let the vapor rise!