Friday, June 18, 2010

Smoke-Free Wisconsin and AMA

The Smoke-Free Wisconsin blog commented on the press release by the American Medical Association (AMA) announcing a resolution that called upon the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate electronic cigarettes as drug devices and called for a ban on e-cigaretes that are not FDA-approved. Of course, there are no e-cigarettes that are FDA-approved, so that amounts to a full ban. But wait, there's more. The resolution urged state legislators to ban sales of the products and ban their use in non-smoking areas.

Here's an extract from the Blog entry:
Folks who use e-cigarettes say they have quit smoking and have a "smoke-free" life. However you see the product, e-cigarettes do deliver nicotine, not unlike inhalers, lozenges, or gum. All cessation products are regulated by the FDA either as over-the-counter or by prescription.

The article contains a quote which is quite poignant:
“Because e-cigarettes have not been thoroughly tested, one cannot conclude that they are less harmful or less dangerous than conventional cigarettes,” said Dr. Langston. “The fact that they come in fruit and candy flavors gives them the potential to entice new nicotine users, especially teens.”
FDA regulation of e-cigarettes is something we can all support.

Actually, I can suppport reasonable regulation by the FDA, but not as drug delivery devices. I wonder about that "poignant" quote from Dr. Langston complaining that the products haven't been thoroughly tested. Then why did the AMA resolution also rescind a resolution passed last year supporting testing of the products as a smoking-cessation device. "They haven't been tested enough so let's ban them, and also let's oppose testing them."

I left the following as a comment on the Smoke-Free Wisconsin blog.
Yes, e-cigarettes do deliver nicotine, not unlike tobacco cigarette smoke. Unlike smoke, however, e-cigarette vapor does not deliver tar, CO, particles of ash, heavy metals and 4,000 chemical compounds that are created when tobacco is burned, many of which are carcinogenic or toxic. This isn’t rocket science. Even a lay person can figure out that smoke contains a lot more dangerous substances than vapor.

The true test of any drug’s safety comes after the drug is FDA-approved and can be prescribed for anyone who needs treatment. After the smoking-cessation drug Chantix was approved, there were cases reported of severe depression, anxiety, aggressive behavior, and suicides. FDA-approved Chantix is blamed for at least 78 deaths and over 3,000 serious injuries.

E-cigarettes have now been thoroughly tested by millions of users and zero serious injuries have been reported. In fact, those who have successfully replaced cigarette smoke with vaporized nicotine are experiencing improvements in their health: Reduction or elimination of wheezing and coughing, better stamina, better markers of cardiovascular health such as blood pressure and lipids.

The AMA should not be forcing those of us for whom nicotine abstinence is unworkable into a choice between relapsing to smoking or becoming criminals seeking e-cigarette supplies on a black market.

The FDA is now authorized to regulate tobacco products and should regulate e-cigarettes as a tobacco alternative to ensure that products have manufacturing quality controls in place, accurate labeling, and child-proof packaging.

I will be astonished if my comment is approved. However, I do invite Erich to leave comments here and begin a dialog for better understanding.

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