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American Heart Association takes tough position on e-cigarettes

New policy recommendations proposed by the American Heart Association take a tough position on e-cigarettes. The position is the result of several previous research studies and was prepared by Dr. Aruni Bhatnagar, chair of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Louisville, and colleagues. The policy recommendations were published in the Aug. 25, 2014, issue of the journal Circulation. The recommendations insist on a 100 percent smoke-free United States.

Tom Kim vapes, or smokes an electronic cigarette, at Henley Vaporium on April 29, 2014, in New York City. A new law that goes into effect today in New York and Chicago subjects eletronic cigarettes to the same regulations as tobacco.
Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

The paramount issue is protection of young people from using e-cigarettes. The American Heart Association recommends that e-cigarettes be regulated and taxed like all other tobacco products even though e-cigarettes contain no tobacco. The researchers cite a study of 40,000 middle and high school students that shows the present availability of e-cigarettes is too convenient and not sufficiently regulated to protect young people from potential but as yet undetermined health problems that may be caused by e-cigarettes.

The American Heart Association also wants to restrict the rampant marketing of e-cigarettes. The recommendation notes the 250 percent growth of the e-cigarette market in the last two years and the appeal to young people that has been obvious. The recommendation reiterates the American Heart Association’s previous recommendation to the Food and Drug Administration.

E-cigarettes should be treated as any other tobacco containing product that is covered by smoke-free laws. The reasoning is that airborne nicotine can pose a significant health risk. The American Heart Association expresses the opinion that e-cigarettes should be covered by present state laws.

The American Heart Association supports the use of e-cigarettes only as a last resort in smoking cessation. The new recommendations give preference to the use proven smoking-cessation strategies. One might note that this is the first time in history that the American Heart Association and American tobacco and cigarette manufacturers have agreed on anything.