Added by Jessica Cooley on April 5, 2014.
Saved under Health, Jessica Cooley
Tags FDA

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reportedly pushing for a rule that would establish its authority over electronic cigarettes. There are concerns that the e cigarettes are starting to pose a heightened risk to children.

The electronic cigarette is a device that looks like the real thing, but works off of batteries and power plugs. The nicotine is supplied in the through vaporized water, and comes in different concentrations depending on the consumer’s taste. They differ enough from real cigarettes that laws don’t cover them.

“It has been taking too long for this to move,” Commissioner of the FDA, Margaret Hamburg said of the proposed rule being pushed at a Congressional budget hearing. She also mentioned that she hopes and expects that the proposal will be ready soon.

The rule is under examination by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The organization has been reviewing the rule proposal for nearly half a year and it has not been said when the assessment will be completed. Meanwhile, public health advocates and lawmakers are pushing for a prompt release of the rule proposal by FDA with the argument that the sweet flavors in e cigarettes may be addicting to children.

Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon apparently agrees, saying that the FDA’s delays in dealing with the electronic cigarette issue was disgraceful, arguing that the sweet flavors including strawberry and tutti frutti were a devious strategy to get children addicted to nicotine.

Thomas Carr, director of national policy at the American Lung Association, stated that they want to include e cigarettes in the same classification as regular cigarettes. If they are put into the same category, then states would treat electronic cigarettes the same as regular ones under existing laws.

“We only want them to be included in the tobacco product’s definition,” Carr said. “Anything else does not have to change.”

“The e cigarette is supposed to be a good alternative to smoking regular cigarettes,” stated Eric Criss, president and chief executive of the Electronic Cigarette Industry Group. “The goal is to differentiate e cigarettes from that of the real ones.”

“E cigarettes are for adult smokers. The product is for adult consumers,” said Cynthia Cabrera, executive director of the Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association. “It is not supposed to be seen as a gateway to other things, or for those younger than a certain age to be using them.”

Four states have sided with health advocates and the FDA’s pushed rule proposal, and have already included e cigarettes in indoor smoking bans, including Utah, North Dakota, Arkansas and New Jersey. Nine other states, including Colorado, New York, Tennessee and Wyoming have already placed e cigarettes into the classification of tobacco product.

2009 was when the first e cigarette bills were introduced. Since then, 25 different states and the District of Columbia have passed measures defining and regulating the sale of them. Commissioner Hamburg said of the proposed rule pushed by the FDA about e cigarettes, “We do think that this is a matter that needs more attention to the and requires more action done.”

By Jessica Cooley

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The fight is on over e-cigarettes

What is the best e-cig on the market for 2013?

The marketing is clear cigarettes are bad, but e cigarettes are good.

In a sleek, rechargeable metal tube, e cigarettes offer a hit of nicotine without the tar, smoke or other harsh chemicals associated with the real thing. There s no federal law regulating where e cigarettes can be smoked, but some places, like New York City, are banning them anywhere smoking is prohibited.

So where can you smoke e cigs? E smokers are now taking refuge in vape bars, where you can walk in, take a seat at the counter and allow a vapologist to guide you through the chalkboard full of hardware and flavors Disposable or rechargeable? Bubble gum or Cinnabon? The options are endless. The Henley Vaporium, a vape bar co owned by Talia Eisenberg and Peter Denholtz in New York City’s Soho neighborhood, is such a place.

“It’s a different experience of bringing people together, and it’s a healthier experience,” says Denholtz, who smoked for 35 years before switching to e cigarettes. “I’m happy to have a better way to put nicotine into my body.”

Denholtz adds he doesn’t encourage non nicotine users or people who have never smoked to start up, but he views e cigarettes as a healthier alternative for those who suffer from nicotine addiction. For the 45 million smokers in the United States, the switch to e cigs could mean vast improvements for their health.

But what about the health of the teens who have never smoked before? Or the health of ex smokers who haven t taken a puff in years? And what s in these e cigs anyway?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, significant questions remain about how to assess the potential toxicity and health effects of the more than 250 electronic cigarette brands.” There are also questions about how e cigarettes should be both advertised and regulated.

Michael Eriksen, founding dean of the School of Public Health at Georgia State University (GSU) and former director of the CDC s Office on Smoking and Health, says no one knows what to expect from the proliferation of e cigarettes.

Under Eriksen s leadership, GSU recently received a $19 million grant from the Food and Drug Administration to study why people choose to try e cigarettes and what using them really means for the body.

“You have a bit of a conundrum. E cigarettes are, almost without exception, safer to use for a smoker than traditional smoking, but that doesn’t mean they’re safe. That’s what the concern is. People will use e cigarettes on an increased basis, leading to more exposure to nicotine among kids and possibly ex smokers,” he says.

Eriksen says while e cigarettes look like medical devices, they’re considered to be tobacco products because they contain nicotine, which is derived from tobacco, even though e cigarettes contain no tobacco. He adds that, while nicotine itself is not benign, it is much better than cigarette smoke, which is the main reason why traditional cigarette smoking can lead to illness and death.

According to Eriksen, the ideal e cigarette user is a current tobacco smoker that is having difficulty quitting on their own. He says e cigarettes can be a tool for tobacco smokers to eventually kick their nicotine addiction.

“We certainly don’t want people who are not using nicotine like teens or non smokers to start to use nicotine,” Eriksen says. “It is a stimulant, and in larger doses, it is toxic. Nicotine is extraordinarily addicting and still of concern.”

He says e cigarettes are creating, once again, an allure and prestige around the act of smoking.

“Not only is it glamorizing, and in some ways sexualizing, e cigarettes, there is a concern that it is going to renormalize smoking,” he says. “A lot of the progress we’ve made around the world is to denormalize smoking, from it becoming a popular and attractive thing to do to, in some ways, a deviant behavior. The way e cigarettes are being marketed, it really may have the effect of making not only e cigarette use, but smoking in general more desirable.”

Eriksen and his team plan to investigate how people make a decision to smoke either traditional or e cigarettes, in addition to the factors that lead people to stop smoking completely.

“The data is showing rapid and incredible market penetration, both among adults and among teenagers,” says Eriksen of e cigs. “The latest data from the CDC has shown that the usage of e cigarettes among high school students has doubled between 2011 and 2012. Now, about 10 percent of high school students report having tried e cigarettes this is at a time when traditional smoking of cigarettes is at the lowest levels in a generation. What we’re seeing among youth is less cigarette smoking and more use of e cigarettes.”

Eriksen estimates that about 8 percent of all US adults have tried e cigarettes, though about a third of smokers have tried them.

“There’s been really remarkable uptake of e cigarettes over the last few years,” he says.