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What is all the fuss about e-cigarettes?

 

Written by Erica Phung, Sr. Government Relations Director, Southern California

Have you been to the movies lately or out at a café and noticed someone puffing on an e-cigarette and wondered – just what are those things?  Who’s making them? And what’s in that cloud coming out the end of it?

Since the Office of the Surgeon General released the first report on the dangers of tobacco use, smoking rates declined significantly across the United States.  As such, lower smoking rates have forced tobacco companies to seek new ways to appeal to a new generation of smokers, including through the manufacturing and marketing of e-cigarettes.

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that have cartridges or refillable tanks that contain a liquid mixture primarily comprised of propylene glycol and/or glycerol and nicotine, as well as other flavors or chemicals.  Proponents argue they don’t expose the user to the same harmful toxins found in conventional cigarette smoke and could help people quit smoking.  However, the devices have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for smoking cessation or been proven to be safe.  

The AHA has concerns that e-cigarettes could fuel and promote nicotine addiction, and that their acceptance has the potential of re-normalizing smoking, especially amongst youth who are drawn to candy flavors.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that youth rates of e-cigarette use has skyrocketed, doubling from 2011 to 2012. The CDC estimated that by 2012, 1.78 million youth had tried e-cigarettes.  The AHA also has concerns of second or third hand exposure to e-cigarette vapor and constituents. 

Because of these concerns, the AHA believes that e-cigarettes should be included in existing smoke-free laws, taxed like conventional tobacco products and be included in laws that prohibit the sale and marketing of tobacco to minors.  We also promote educating health care workers, so they can adequately counsel their patients regarding comprehensive tobacco cessation strategies.  Further research and surveillance is also needed regarding the short, medium and long-term physiological effects of e-cigarettes.

In California, our AHA You’re the Cure Advocates have helped pass e-cigarette legislation in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and numerous other cities.  Does your city include e-cigarettes in its smoke-free laws? If not – contact us to help advocate for change! All Californians deserve to breathe clean air.

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