E-cigarettes seem to be a bad idea no matter how you cut it | Center on Addiction

E-cigarettes seem to be a bad idea no matter how you cut it

E-cigarettes seem to be a bad idea no matter how you cut it


Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, are not the magic cure-all that they’ve been made out to be, and today CASAColumbia announced it is against the unregulated production, promotion and selling of e-cigarettes.

While many are touting e-cigarettes as a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes, they still pose a serious health risk to users because, like traditional cigarettes, they too deliver nicotine, a highly addictive drug. In fact, a growing body of evidence suggests that early use of nicotine increases the risk of addiction involving not only nicotine but other drugs as well. CASAColumbia recommends that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) take immediate action and regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products.

CASAColumbia’s full position on e-cigarettes is below.

CASAColumbia recommends that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) take immediate action to assert the regulatory authority granted in the Tobacco Control Act and regulate e‐cigarettes as cigarettes, and that the federal and state governments tax them accordingly.

As is the case with conventional cigarettes, e‐cigarettes deliver nicotine, an addictive drug. A growing body of evidence suggests that early use of nicotine increases the risk of addiction involving not only nicotine but also other drugs. Ninety‐five percent of cases of addiction involving nicotine originate with substance use before age 21. High school students who have ever smoked cigarettes are nine times likelier to develop addiction involving alcohol or other drugs than those who have never smoked. Tobacco, alcohol and other substance use and addiction is the largest preventable and most costly health problem in the U.S.

As the tobacco industry knows only too well, the best way to get a lifetime user is to start them early. This explains current e‐cigarette marketing tactics that revive the glamorous promotional cues which for decades have attracted young people to the deadly habit of cigarette smoking. E‐cigarettes are designed to look like cigarettes, are often flavored in ways that appeal directly to children and adolescents, including candy and menthol, and may be used as a bridge to other addictive substances including conventional cigarettes.

While e‐cigarettes probably are less toxic than conventional cigarettes, there is no evidence to assure their safety and some evidence to suggest they may carry negative health effects that should not be ignored. If e‐cigarettes were used only as replacement products for smokers who have been unable to quit smoking, they appear to be harm reduction products; however, research on how these products are used is very scarce and some suggests that e‐cigarettes are being used to supplement rather than replace other tobacco use. E‐cigarettes also are promoted as safer than combustible tobacco products because of the lack of secondhand smoke. While it is true that e‐cigarettes do not produce carcinogenic smoke, there is not sufficient evidence to prove they have no secondhand effects.

Given the history of cigarette marketing in this country and the horrific health consequences and costs that resulted, we should be very careful about endorsing this new product without first developing a solid understanding of its impact on health, public safety and the anticipated market for new users.

There may be therapeutic value in a vaporized nicotine delivery system for the purpose of tobacco use cessation. Companies interested in developing such products should use the established FDA process for bringing drugs to market while assuring their safety and efficacy.


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