The e-cigarette, or electronic cigarette, has been under fire from the FDA since 2008. That year marked the start of the FDA’s efforts to prevent e-cigarettes from entering the United States. To date, there have been approximately 50 shipments refused, but this has still not stopped the sale and distribution of the E-cigarettes. In March of 2009, Canada fully banned the use of these devices. The FDA has continued to issue warnings against the use of electronic cigarettes.
There are many different styles of e-cigarettes on the market today. However, all models are made of the same basic components and operate in the same general manner. Instead of tobacco, e-cigarettes are made of a rechargeable battery, circuitry, an atomizer and a mouthpiece. The individual inhales air through the mouthpiece and the air intake triggers the atomizer, which subsequently turns the nicotine and propylene glycol liquid into a vapor. Because there is no flame or fire involved in the process at all, many sellers are marketing electronic cigarettes as a safer alternative to conventional tobacco cigarettes. Opponents of e-cigarettes, such as the FDA, maintain that they are unsafe because some models have been found to contain cancer causing carcinogens and toxins.
The FDA has released these findings without sufficient testing though and may mislead the public into thinking that the electronic cigarette is as, or more dangerous than regular tobacco cigarettes. Proponents of e-cigarettes include health professionals, and they are weighing in on the issues concerning this alternative to conventional cigarettes. For instance, Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, president of the American Council on Science and Health, called the FDA’s recent statements “distorted, incomplete and misleading.” And Dr. Joel Nitzkin, MD, MPH, DPA, FACPM, Chair, Tobacco Control Task Force, American Association of Public Health Physicians stated that “we have every reason to believe the hazard posed by electronic cigarettes would be much lower than 1% of that posed by tobacco cigarettes. The testing guidelines in the current tobacco act, which is circulating through Congress, would represent a ban on electronic cigarettes, yet if we get all tobacco smokers to switch from regular cigarettes to electronic cigarettes, we would eventually reduce the US death toll from more than 400,000 a year to less than 4,000, maybe as low as 400.” It may be important to note that both Dr. Whelan and Dr. Nitzkin are anti-smoking advocates.
The sellers of electronic cigarettes have not kept silent in the face of the litigation. The CEO of NJOY, Jack Leadbeater, said in a recent statement, “NJOY has been tested by an independent third-party laboratory. This testing, as well as our consultation with medical experts, gives us confidence that our products are appropriate alternatives for traditional cigarettes for the committed smoker. We are therefore surprised the FDA’s testing has resulted in the agency suggesting that our products represent a health risk on par with conventional cigarettes. We will provide more information on NJOY’s testing and the results in the very near future.”
Smokers that are on the lookout for an alternative for traditional cigarettes will no doubt be eagerly awaiting the news reports of the ongoing litigation between the FDA and sellers of E-cigarettes.
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