One of the authors of the article from the "American Journal of Public Health" concludes that: ""Until adequate research and regulation is in place, smokers should be wary of using e-cigarettes, and smokers who want to quit should, instead, pursue research-proven effective cessation tools, such as nicotine replacement products, telephone quit lines and Web-based cessation services, as well as non-nicotine pharmacotherapies like bupropion and varenicline."
Another author highlighted that dangers of e-cigarettes to kids who, somewhat like young children years ago who were tempted to begin smoking by candy cigarettes, might be enticed to try e-cigarettes and become hooked on the nicotine: "The data suggest that younger smokers are more likely to have ever tried an e-cigarette" . . . We don't know why younger smokers are more likely to try e-cigarettes, but this highlights the need for more information on the health and behavioral consequences of exclusive 'vaping' and dual use with combustible tobacco products."
In other words, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf, ENDS may act like candy cigarettes on steroids, because, in addition mimicking the appearance of smoking like candy cigarettes, they also provide a powerful kick from the highly addictive drug nicotine, and give off a smoke-like vapor which can fool observers.
Banzhaf filed a legal petition which helped lead to the FDA exercising jurisdiction over e-cigarettes; his scheduled appearance on a major national news program pressured the FDA into releasing a previously-secret report about the dangers of ecigs; and he helped persuade New Jersey and Suffolk County, NY, to ban their use in no-smoking sections.
This new study comes on the heels of another study which confirmed earlier reports that e-cigarettes - sometimes called Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems or ENDS - give off toxic and cancer-causing chemicals which can endanger bystanders through a process similar to "passive smoking" called "passive vaping."
The study showed that ecigs give off a variety of volatile organic compounds, including formaldehyde, a toxic and allergenic irritant listed as "known to be a human carcinogen" by the U.S. National Toxicology Program; acetaldehyde, an irritant of the skin, eyes, mucous membranes, throat and respiratory tract, and classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] as a "probable human carcinogen"; acetone, an industrial solvent; as well as 1,2-propanediol, 1,2,3-propanetriol, diacetine, and a variety of tiny particles which lodge themselves into the lungs of those who inhale them.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration [FDA] has warned the public that ENDS contain various toxic, mutagenic, carcinogenic, and genotoxic chemicals, and that e-cigarette cartridges containing the nicotine and other toxic chemicals, many of which come from China, are subject to "none of the manufacturing controls required for FDA-approved nicotine-delivery products" [like nicotine gum, patches, inhalers, sprays, etc.].
In addition to nicotine and propylene glycol, the FDA reported that it found in samples of e-cigarettes a variety of "toxic and carcinogenic chemicals" including diethylene glycol, "an ingredient used in antifreeze, [which] is toxic to humans"; "certain tobacco-specific nitrosamines which are human carcinogens"; and that "tobacco-specific impurities suspected of being harmful to humans - anabasine, myosmine, and nicotyrine - were detected in a majority of the samples tested."
The principal components of ecig vapors are nicotine (a dangerous and addictive drug) and propylene glycol (which is used in antifreeze, and may cause respiratory tract irritation), notes public interest law professor John Banzhaf, who brought a law suit which helped establish the FDA's jurisdiction over nicotine products. Until recently, nicotine was not generally regarded as a chemical capable of causing cancer, but recent research shows that it can be a carcinogen, either by itself or when modified by other chemicals found in the air.
Banzhaf was one of the first to alert the public and take action about the dangers ENDS use may pose to bystanders, especially the elderly, young children, and more than 100 million Americans who have a variety of medical conditions like asthma and allergies which make them especially susceptible.
Many other countries have banned the sale of e-cigarettes, and a growing number of U.S. jurisdictions have banned their use in public places and workplaces, their sale to minor, etc. Banzhaf says that these two studies are likely to accelerate the growing trend.
JOHN F. BANZHAF III, B.S.E.E., J.D., Sc.D.
Professor of Public Interest Law
George Washington University Law School,
FAMRI Dr. William Cahan Distinguished Professor,
Fellow, World Technology Network,
Founder, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
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