FDA Rules On E-Cigs Needed, Say Pennsylvania Physicians

- The following is a statement from Bruce MacLeod, MD, president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society and a practicing emergency medicine physician from Pittsburgh. Dr. MacLeod responds to proposed regulations from the FDA on electronic cigarettes that were released on April 24, 2014.

News on proposed rules from the Food and Drug Administration that would place strict regulations on electronic cigarettes is welcoming information. Among the recommendations, the Pennsylvania Medical Society is particularly pleased to learn that the FDA wants to eliminate access for minors. In addition to placing an age restriction on purchases, the FDA proposes to add health warnings as well as prohibiting the sale through vending machines.

Electronic cigarettes deliver a vaporized dose of nicotine to the body. Experts believe the concentrated liquid form found in e-cigs is potentially toxic. It can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin. And little is known about the long-term effects to users or those around them when they use e-cigs.

While there is scant scientific knowledge about e-cigs, we do know a few things. The percentage of high school students using e-cigs has more than doubled in one year. This in combination with the evidence that they can be a gateway to tobacco products raises the alarming concern that a new generation of tobacco abusers is being developed. This could undo the recent progress in reducing the number of teenagers who smoke. And while e-cigs have been touted as a tobacco cessation strategy, there is little evidence to support that they are any better than traditional cessation techniques. Plus, the number of calls about nicotine toxicity to poison control centers nationwide is increasing.

Last October physicians at the Pennsylvania Medical Society House of Delegates annual meeting raised a red flag on these products. Since then, the Pennsylvania Medical Society has dedicated a great amount of energy working to educate the public about the potential hazards of these products. And, we’ve had help from champions in the Pennsylvania legislature including Sen. Tim Solobay who drafted SB 1055 to address this issue.

As the FDA recommendations go through a 75-day public comment period, the Pennsylvania Medical Society applauds the move by the FDA and encourages those with similar concerns to participate in the commenting process.

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