Health Agencies Call for E-Cigarette Regulations

e-cigarette regulations

Electronic cigarettes, often viewed as a “safer” alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes, have increased in popularity across the globe in the past few years – and they’re virtually unregulated. According to the American Heart Association, there were 466 brands of e-cigarettes and 7,764 different flavors available earlier this year. Additionally, it’s estimated that sales of e-cigarettes could eventually surpass traditional cigarettes and become a $10 billion industry by 2017. According to USA Today, sales of e-cigarettes increased from only 50,000 in 2008 to around 3.5 million in 2012. Also, one in five smokers in the U.S. had at least tried e-cigarettes as of 2011.

So if they’re safer than regular cigarettes, what exactly is the problem? Well, according to several health agencies, these safety claims are not totally supported by scientific evidence.

WHO, AHA Lead the Way

Both the World Health Organization and the AHA have recently called for e-cigarette regulation. According to the WHO, regulation is needed due to the current lack of research regarding the cigarette alternatives. The WHO states that regulation is necessary for “ensuring that adequate research is conducted and the public health is protected.” They are recommending that nations restrict the use of e-cigarettes indoors until it can be proven that the exhaled vapor is not harmful to bystanders. Currently, many marketing claims for e-cigarettes state that smokers are exhaling safe water vapor when using the products. However, the WHO states that Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) do not end up producing water vapor entirely, but rather water vapor mixed with nicotine and other intoxicants. In addition, the WHO would like all vending machines that sell the products to be removed.

Both the AHA and the WHO have also stressed the importance of e-cigarette regulations regarding advertising and marketing. The AHA believes that the many different flavors available can cause e-cigarettes to appeal to kids. According to the WHO, the number of adolescents who experimented with e-cigarettes doubled from 2008 to 2012 worldwide. Other groups have argued this as well. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a study showing that over a quarter million adolescents who had never smoked ended up trying an e-cigarette in 2013. This is triple the amount that was recorded in 2011. The FDA has also been encouraged to up its e-cigarette regulations when it comes to people under the age of 18.

Are There Any Real Benefits?

Manufacturers argue that e-cigarette regulations would actually increase health problems by making it harder for people to use the allegedly safer alternative. They also claim that e-cigarettes can be used as a method to help people quit smoking. The AHA has even suggested there is some sparse evidence claiming that e-cigarettes could be just as or even more effective than nicotine patches in helping people to quit. At the same time, the AHA still recommends “proven techniques” such as the patch to be administered first, whereas e-cigarettes should be more of a last resort.

E-cigarette Regulations: The Bottom Line

As of now, there’s no overwhelming evidence that e-cigarettes are any more harmful than traditional cigarettes. At the same time, not much is known about the health effects of e-cigarettes at all. In order to maintain good health, it’s best to just drop any smoking habit altogether – regardless of the type of material smoked. Many parents probably agree with the AHA when they state that regulation is needed quickly in order to prevent another generation of young people from becoming addicted to nicotine.

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