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Feds Huff and Puff About E-Cigarettes

Apr 25, 2014

By Dean George

Yesterday morning the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed their strictest rules to date on the $2 billion electronic cigarette industry. If finalized following a 75-day public comment period, the new rule will ban the sale of “e-cigs” to minors, make free handouts illegal, require warning labels similar to conventional cigarettes and demand federal registration of all products and ingredients with the FDA.

After the public comment period and once the final rules are established, manufacturers like Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds and Lorillard will have 24 months to apply to allow their products to remain on the market or face reapplying.

Feds Huff and Puff About E-Cigarettes

E-cigs look like conventional cigarettes, pens or memory sticks, but instead of burning tobacco the battery-powered devices heat up a nicotine-laced liquid that comes in a replaceable cartridge and converts it into a vapor that the user inhales.

Until Thursday, the e-cig industry has enjoyed wide latitude on the sale and marketing of their product as an alternative to traditional cigarettes. Their availability in flavors like apple, chocolate and bubble gum, easy accessibility on the Internet and glamorization by several Hollywood celebrities have all contributed to their popularity, especially among youth.

As reported by Dental Wire in September, use of e-cigs by youth has more than doubled since 2012 with more than 2 million middle and high school students saying they have used the battery powered devices. The new rules proposed by the FDA won’t ban advertising unless the e-cigs make health-related claims, nor will they ban flavors which some officials say may attract children.

While e-cigs don’t contain many of the harmful chemicals of conventional cigarettes, the FDA did detect trace amounts of carcinogenic ingredients in several samples in 2008 when the products were first introduced in the U.S. Nicotine is a drug and critics of e-cigs say the concentrated liquid form used in the devices is highly toxic, even in small doses. It can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

Because the ingredients in e-cigs have not been fully studied, it is unknown what health risks they pose.  However, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that poison control centers listed 215 calls involving e-cigs just in the month of February, including 51 percent involving children.

"It's really the wild, wild west out there," says Margaret Hamburg, FDA commissioner. “There's very worrisome data that show that young people in particular are starting to take up e-cigarettes, especially the flavored ones, and that might be a gateway to other harmful tobacco products."

There are many harmful effects of even smokeless tobacco on oral health, as previously mentioned in Dental Wire. Possible problems include:

  • Increased risk of periodontal (gum) disease
  • Longer recuperative times after dental procedures
  • Staining of the teeth, tongue and bad breath
  • A reduction in oral sensations like taste
  • Limited oral health treatment options such as a dental implant

At present the FDA only has regulatory authority over cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and roll-your-own tobacco, but the new rules regulating e-cigs would also extend to cigars, pipe tobacco, nicotine gels, water pipe tobacco and hookahs.

Sources: CNN, USA Today, Washington Post

Photo source: bestratedelectroniccigarettes.com


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