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How safe are e-cig’s?



Suddenly, e-cigarettes seem to be everywhere. And with them have come a host of questions. Can e-cigarettes damage health over the long run, even though they appear to be better for smokers than regular cigarettes? Perhaps more importantly, will these jauntily-marketed devices hook more young people on nicotine and turn them eventually into standard cigarette smokers?

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that deliver nicotine by heating liquid into a vapor. Users are spared the toxins that arise from combustion. Many adults who have had trouble quitting have switched to e-cigarettes, or used them to cut back.

But e-cigarettes are now being aggressively advertised on TV, often with the same strategies that hooked generations on the glamour of smoking. They are manufactured in a dizzying array of flavors, including a number blatantly aimed at children: gummy bear, for instance, and bubble gum. … Annual sales are expected to surpass $1billion this year.

The federal Food and Drug Administration, meanwhile, has been moving slowly toward regulating e-cigarettes. … A recent letter signed by 40 attorneys general urged the agency to regulate e-cigarettes, in much the way it currently regulates tobacco products. …

Caution is certainly called for. If e-cigarettes do help adults quit or cut back on smoking, that is all to the good. But more research is needed on the long-term health effects of these devices.

Nicotine is highly addictive, and can affect the neurological development of minors. Aggressive marketing of e-cigarettes could reverse decades of slow progress in reducing tobacco use in this country. The FDA should not shrink from protecting public health.

— The Providence (R.I.) Journal



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