By the American Heart Association
While much is still unknown about the rapidly growing electronic cigarette industry, e-cigarettes are dangerous because they target young people, can keep people hooked on nicotine and threaten to “re-normalize” tobacco use, according to the American Heart Association’s first policy statement on these products.
Based on current evidence, the association’s position is that e-cigarettes that contain nicotine are tobacco products and should be subject to all laws that apply to these products.
The association also calls for strong new regulations to prevent access, sales and marketing of e-cigarettes to youth, and for more research into the product’s health impact.
“Over the last 50 years, 20 million Americans died because of tobacco. We are fiercely committed to preventing the tobacco industry from addicting another generation of smokers,” said Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association.
“Recent studies raise concerns that e-cigarettes may be a gateway to traditional tobacco products for the nation’s youth, and could renormalize smoking in our society,” Brown said. “These disturbing developments have helped convince the association that e-cigarettes need to be strongly regulated, thoroughly researched and closely monitored.”
The policy statement recommends a federal ban on e-cigarettes for minors and details concerns that these products may be another entry point for nicotine addiction among young people.
The authors cite one JAMA Pediatrics study of 40,000 middle and high school students that indicated adolescents consider e-cigarettes as high-tech, accessible and convenient, especially in places where smoking cigarettes is not allowed.
Another key recommendation examines e-cigarettes in tobacco-cessation counseling. The statement points to the lack of evidence establishing e-cigarettes as a primary smoking-cessation aid.
Some studies suggest that the use of e-cigarettes to help smokers quit may be equal or be slightly better than nicotine patches. The association will continue to encourage clinicians to use proven smoking-cessation strategies as the first line of treatment for any patient. But it reiterates in the statement that when repeated efforts with conventional treatment fails, is intolerant or rejected by a patient who wants to utilize e-cigarettes to help them quit, clinicians should not discourage use.
When it comes to purchasing life insurance, smoking e-cigarettes is still considered being a smoker and nicotine addiction will affect standard rates.