American Heart Association issues warnings about e-cigs, need for stricter regulation

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Oh, very interesting. The American Heart Association (not some rabble-rousing anti-smoking group — the AHA), this week came out with a very strongly worded position paper on e-cigarettes.

Specifically, the AHA expressed the need for the Food and Drug Administration to regulate e-cigs. The FDA proposed some regulations on e-cigs a few months ago, and is still taking public comment on those regs.

NBC story. (Emphasizing that e-cigs should only be used as a “last resort” to quit.

USA TODAY story.

To wit, the AHA brings up three main concerns about e-cigs:

  •  They target young people
  • They keep people hooked on nicotine
  • They threaten to “re-normalize” tobacco use, according to the American Heart Association’s first policy statement on these products.

I really appreciate what the AHA is saying because while in a lot of ways I am on the fence about e-cigs (If they legitimately help people quit smoking, and some people swear they do, more power to them), BUT the major issue I have with e-cigs is the way they are being marketed, and in some cases, downright blatantly so, to kids.

From the AHA statement:

“Nicotine is a dangerous and highly addictive chemical no matter what form it takes – conventional cigarettes or some other tobacco product,” said American Heart Association President Elliott Antman, M.D. “Every life that has been lost to tobacco addiction could have been prevented. We must protect future generations from any potential smokescreens in the tobacco product landscape that will cause us to lose precious ground in the fight to make our nation 100 percent tobacco-free.

Manufacturers present e-cigarettes as “cool and sexy and acceptable, which is a problem because you’re increasing addiction,” Bhatnagar said.

Exactly, the point is, e-cigs are being marketed as cool and sexy and acceptable, but in fact, they contain nicotine. So while they might help some smokers (emphasis on “some”) quit, they are keeping those smokers addicted to nicotine, which has its own health issues (such as increasing blood pressure, etc.). And worse yet, if kids use them because Blu ads make them look hip and cool, then they’re being turned into nicotine addicts to begin with — not by cigarettes, but by e-cigs.

The AHA agrees:

The FDA’s proposal fell short of what was hoped for by the AHA and other public health advocates. They believe e-cigarettes should be regulated under the same laws as other tobacco products and prohibited from being marketed or sold to young people. The proposal, they said, did not go far enough in limiting online sales, advertising and flavored products, all tactics used to make e-cigarettes appealing to young people.

I personally don’t get that worked up about the flavoured e-cigs, but I completely agree with the AHA about the marketing issue. The FDA in its original proposal declined to address e-cig marketing (possibly because the agency is concerned about being sued over the First Amendment), but did ban e-cig sales to minors. That’s a start, I suppose.

 

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