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Aug 28, 2014

Heart Group Says E-Cigarettes Require Strict Regulation

Electronic cigarettes should be included in smoke-free air laws, according to the American Heart Association.

Electronic cigarettes should be included in smoke-free air laws, according to a policy statement released by the American Heart Association. 

Published in the medical journal Circulation, this statement reviewed the latest science concerning e-cigarettes, which have grown in popularity since being introduced to the U.S. market in 2007. E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that vaporize nicotine. Unlike regular cigarettes, e-cigarettes don’t contain tobacco, giving consumers the impression that they are a safer alternative to conventional cigarettes. Some studies also suggest that e-cigarettes may be a useful smoking cessation tool, especially for people who could not quit after trying approved methods, like nicotine patches. However, little is known about the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use and the American Heart Association urges strict regulation of this new product in the United States. 

Based on the latest evidence, the American Heart Association supports laws that prohibit the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes to youth. E-cigarette use has doubled in recent years among America’s youth and many worry that e-cigarettes serve as a gateway to conventional cigarettes and tobacco products. 

Given the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, the American Heart Association also supports the inclusion of e-cigarettes in smoke-free air laws. Although e-cigarettes contain lower levels of toxic ingredients than cigarettes, studies have demonstrated the harmful effects of secondhand smoke and there is concern that nonsmokers will involuntarily be exposed to nicotine from e-cigarettes. 

The main concern is that e-cigarettes could undo the significant progress we’ve made in reducing smoking rates in the U.S. Tobacco use is the single greatest cause of preventable death globally and has claimed 20 million lives in the U.S. alone over the last 50 years. Although e-cigarettes could help current smokers quit, they also have the potential to re-normalize smoking and increase smoking rates among both youth and adults. That’s why the American Heart Association concludes that we need strict regulation for e-cigarettes and more research to understand the long-term effects of these tobacco products.

Questions for You to Consider

  • Do e-cigarettes contain tobacco?
  • No, e-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that vaporize nicotine. Unlike regular cigarettes, e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco. However, they are still considered tobacco products and little is known about the long-term effects of e-cigarette use.
  • Can e-cigarettes help smokers quit?
  • E-cigarettes are not marketed as a smoking cessation device, nor are they endorsed by health organizations as an approved smoking cessation tool. However, studies have suggested that e-cigarettes may help smokers quit, especially when proven smoking cessation tools are ineffective. Additional research is needed to determine both the safety and efficacy of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool.

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