E-cigarette advertising has jumped 1,200 percent between 2011 and 2013 – with 12 to 17 year olds being exposed to 256% more TV ads for e-cigarettes – many of which come in flavors such as “cotton candy,” “gummy bear,” and “cinnamon roll.” Not surprisingly, there was a more than doubling of e-cigarette use among middle- and high-school students in 2013 alone. In light of these trends, PI’s Larry Cohen was recently asked by Wallethub.com to contribute to a discussion among a panel of public health and addiction experts on whether vaping is unhealthy. You can read his full commentary here.
Larry writes: "Big Tobacco and its allies have been trying to obscure the emerging science on the dangers e-cigarettes pose to public health. But claims that “vaping” is a healthier alternative to cigarettes, instead of a gateway, were disproven by a recent American Journal of Public Health study that found smokers who have used e-cigarettes are less likely to cut back on cigarettes in the future than smokers who haven’t used them."
In the early 1980s, Larry worked with a coalition of health advocates in Contra Costa County, California to pass the first multi-city smoke-free policies in the United States. Over 40 years later the tobacco industry has trotted out a familiar set of tactics in defense of their latest poisonous product: denying the threat it poses to customer health, and sowing doubt about solid science, in an attempt to stall the same kinds of regulations of tobacco that swept the country and saved millions of lives.
In the commentary, Larry highlights findings in a report issued last year by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) that exposed the public health risks posed by e-cigarettes, including:
- The vapor alone contains at least 10 toxic chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects;
- E-cigarettes contain nicotine, a neurotoxin that affects the cardiovascular and central nervous systems, causing blood vessels to constrict and raising blood pressure.
- In California, e-cigarette poisonings of young children tripled in 2014 alone. From 2012 to 2013, the number of calls to poison control centers involving e-cigarette exposures rose from 7 to 154 in children five and under.
At the state and federal level, public policy makers are connecting the dots. California, along with eight other states, now classifies e-cigarettes as tobacco products, making them subject to smoke-free laws, age restrictions, and other rules governing tobacco products. And the FDA recently prohibited retailers from selling e-cigarettes to people under age 18.
Larry concludes: "Without strict limits on the marketing and sale of e-cigarettes and the extension of smoke-free policies to cover them, we will see more children getting hooked on nicotine, more poison control emergencies, and a mounting burden of preventable illness and injury…The truth is out: vaping is not safe."
Read more here.