Electronic cigarettes could rekindle battles over smoking in public
Websites for e-cigarettes note how they do not produce the smell, ash, and smoke that have led to workplace and public-space bans for tobacco cigarettes. But it is far from a clean smoke. E-cigarettes contain liquefied nicotine, which is heated into a vapor that is inhaled. Nicotine is addictive. Many smokers say they smoke e-cigarettes as a bridge to quitting.
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Electronic cigarettes: No smoking, but lots of fuming
Yet many of the alleged benefits of e-cigarettes are unproven and tighter regulations to ensure the quality of the product are needed to protect public safety. At the same time more regulation could slow down innovation and production — delaying the potential benefits a shift away from traditional cigarettes may yield, Neal L. Benowitz, MD, of the University of California San Francisco and Maciej L. Goniewicz, PhD, of Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, New York, suggested in the Journal of the American Medical Association. They explained the unknowns, weighed the agency’s options and made several recommendations for how to proceed in a Viewpoint published online. First introduced in 2007, e-cigarettes are the latest form of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).
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Seventy percent of those who quit smoking eventually gave up e-cigarettes, too. As evidenced in this study, when people switch to electronic cigarettes, it absolutely makes it easier to quit nicotine use completely, said Michael Siegel, a professor at Boston University School of Public Health who studies e-cigarettes. Its not as simple as saying people are substituting one addiction for another. In fact, Siegel said the quit-rate for e-cigarettes is comparable to rates in other nicotine-replacement therapy studies.
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FDA faces dilemmas in regulating e-cigarettes
But what about vapers, the name for people who draw on electronic cigarettes that spew no actual smoke? Instead, they inhale — and then exhale — e-juice as a vapor containing liquid nicotine, flavored with such tastes as fresh tobacco and cotton candy. Should they be subject to the same restrictions? Vapers argue that the emissions from a few ingredients must be cleaner than the thousands of charred chemicals flowing from the average cigarette. Critics worry that the devices and the components of their associated vapor are “untried, untested and unknown,” in the words of Stella Bialous, president of the San Francisco consulting firm Tobacco Policy International.
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