Friday, August 1, 2014

Lend Your Support to Regulate E-Cigarettes

By Declan Fleming, MD, FACS
Austin Surgical Oncologist and General Surgeon

Electronic cigarettes or “e-cigarettes” have been growing in popularity over the past decade. As an alternative to traditional cigarettes and heralded as a smoking cessation tool, e-cigarettes are today a global product with sales of almost $2 billion each year. There is growing concern that e-cigarettes, rather than helping people break free from their tobacco addiction, have instead indoctrinated many, including minors, into nicotine use. E-cigarettes contain not only nicotine but other dangerous chemicals. Formaldehyde, benzene, and tobacco-specific nitrosamines (cancer-causing compounds) all have been detected in the vapor from various e-cigarettes.

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the promotion of e-cigarettes reaches children with alarming success. In just one year, e-cigarette use doubled among high school and middle school students, and one in 10 high school students have used an e-cigarette. Altogether, 1.78 million middle and high school students nationwide use e-cigarettes. Despite all this, e-cigarettes have gone largely untested and unregulated.

Commonsense regulation of e-cigarettes by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is urgently needed. In the absence of meaningful oversight, the tobacco industry has free rein to promote its products as “safe” without any proof. This spring, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed new rules for the regulation of e-cigarettes. If enacted, these new rules would:
  1. Regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products, and 
  2. Prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.
(View the rules summary.)

TMA has taken action to support these are important public health measures. This May, TMA physicians adopted TMA policy on e-cigarettes calling for oversight and regulation of e-cigarettes and policies to limit youth access.

Now, each Texas physician and member of the public has the opportunity to go online and lend his or her voice to this effort. Just click on the Comment Now button by Aug. 8 to register your support.

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