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American Heart Association recommends regulation of e-cigarettes

The American Heart Association (AHA) issued a policy statement regarding regulation of the sale of electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) on Aug. 24, 2014. The AHA has concluded that e-cigs should be regulated under the same laws as traditional cigarettes. They also said that e-cigs are a last ditch approach to helping quit tobacco cigarettes. They have the research to prove their conclusions.

Hiding behind an illusion of e-cig safety
Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

There are going to be several additions to the Merriam-Webster dictionary soon with regard to e-cig use. The preferred term by e-cig users is that they are called vapers. The mixture of nicotine and a propellant is called juice or e-liquid. The process of ingesting the e-cig juice is called vaping. The result of e-cig use is called addiction. Addiction is not a new word in the dictionary.

There are several good reasons that the AMA is recommending that e-cigs be regulated like tobacco cigarettes. Read the full article for details of the AMA research.

  1. The fastest growing segment of e-cig users are middle school and high school students. Usage of e-cigs in the US in this segment doubled between 2011 and 2012. Over 20% of middle school e-cig users and 7% of high school students had never smoked a traditional cigarette.
  2. Statistical analysis of several studies found that the key factor in stopping smoking was a serious intent by the users. E-cig use was not statistically significant in cigarette smoking cessation. Those that used regular cigarettes and e-cigs together did reduce their smoking of regular cigarettes. However, the risk of heart disease and lung disease are increased when cigarettes and e-cigs are used together.
  3. E-cigs are a nicotine delivery system. (See the information below regarding the relative addictiveness of nicotine, and the proven impact of nicotine on overall health.) Addiction of new users is very high.
  4. Upon high heat application, the primary aerosol propellants in e-cigs, propylene glycol, produced propylene oxide, which is a class 2B carcinogen. The glycerol forms acrolein, which causes upper respiratory tract irritation.

The proven effects of nicotine on health as complied by the National Institute of Health (NIH) include the following:

  1. Nicotine increases blood pressure, heart rate and narrowing of arteries that provides blood to the lungs, heart, liver, kidneys and spleen.
  2. Nicotine is the major risk factor for kidney cancer, gastric cancers, including stomach and colon cancers, and inflammatory bowel disease.
  3. Nicotine increases the long-term risk of heart attacks, strokes and arrhythmia (irregular heart beat) which can lead to immediate death.

The following list of relative addiction potential was compiled by Erowid Center, which is short for Earth Wisdom. Erowid Center is a non-profit 501c corporation that focuses on providing accurate data on the effects of psychoactive substances. The maximum addictiveness rating is 100. Nicotine is only slightly more addictive than smoked methamphetamine and smoked crystallized cocaine (crack). The ranking of drugs are: Nicotine (100 - maximum); smoked methamphetamine - 99; crack cocaine - 98; injected methamphetamine - 93. Alcohol is listed at 81 and marijuana is 18 on the addictive scale.

[Research by John Hastings] [From: _In Health_, Nov/Dec 1990; relative rankings are definite, numbers given are (+/-)1%]

The complete report of the American Heart Association regarding e-cigs is available. It is part of a much larger report by the World Health Organization that covers the effects of e-cigs around the world.

The primary conclusions by the AHA are that e-cigarettes should be restricted in advertising just as cigarettes to prevent the growth of a new generation of nicotine addicts. The adverse health effects of nicotine are substantial and the propellants used in e-cigs produce known carcinogens when heated. Express your support of e-cig regulation to your local, state and federal representatives. If you are smoking cigarettes or e-cigs, make the commitment to stop.

MedPage Today and Sanjay Gupta MD released a new video on Aug. 25, 2014 that has researchers and doctors talking about the dangers of e-cigs and the need for more stringent regulation. This additional pressure from the AHA may move up the timetable for banning e-cig sales to youth, and restrict advertising as for tobacco cigarettes. Once the FDA is involved, taxes on e-cigs will provide funding for anti-smoking advertising and require new warning labels on e-cigs.