Thursday, July 30, 2009

Common Sense

American Lung Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and FDA: How about a common sense approach?

  • Given what you know about the health effects of tobacco smoking, what are the odds that electronic cigarettes could be more dangerous? Or even as dangerous? Slim to none.
  • Given the fact that the "carcinogens" that the FDA found in the e-cigarette cartridges are also found in the nicotine patch, gum, and lozenges, and these products have not proved to be more cancer-causing than smoking cigarettes, what are the odds that using e-cigarettes will cause more cancer than tobacco smoking? Fairly miniscule.
  • Given the fact that users have reported that their desire to smoke tobacco is going away when they use an electronic cigarette, what are the odds that e-cigarettes will be taken up in droves by non-smokers and lead to smoking tobacco? Pretty darn slim.
  • Given that nicotine gum and lozenges can be purchased at stores and over the internet in flavors such as mint, cinnamon, and cherry, and this has NOT attracted the attention of non-smoking children, what are the odds that non-smoking children will come running to inhale nicotine vapor just because it comes in flavors? Again, just not very darn likely.

So how about these ideas? They will help assuage a few of your fears, while keeping these life-saving products available.

  1. Handle safety on a case-by-case basis, the same way that the safety of food is handled. If a problem emerges with contamination of a particular product, either the FDA or the Consumer Product Safety Commission can implement their tried-and-true product recall process for that particular batch.
  2. Apply the same proof of age requirements for selling e-cigarettes as is required for selling nicotine gum and lozenges.
  3. As for effectiveness, how about applying the principle of "buyer beware"? If the product doesn't work as expected, consumers can demand a refund and complain loudly, so others are not fooled.

If we do it your way, and pull the product off the market while long and costly research is conducted, thousands of people who now use an electronic cigarette may start smoking tobacco again. And please do not forget the 40+ million current tobacco smokers who might switch to these products if they stay available.

If your goal is to make sure that the rates of lung disease, cardiovascular disease, and cancer and deaths do NOT go down, then your way is best.

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