In the first half of this decade, e-cigarettes were advertised and touted as a healthy option for smokers, essentially billed as “just the nicotine in healthy water vapor without all the harmful contents of tobacco smoke.” However, such claims are deja vu from the tobacco industry. Cigarettes themselves were touted as “good for your throat” and “doctor recommended” for much of the 1950s and 1960s (photo, courtesy of Stanford Research Into Tobacco).
This month two milestone studies were published on the role of e-cigarettes.
The first is a short study in the New England Journal of Medicine, showing that at high voltages, e-cigarettes and their vape that often use Rebuildable Drip Atomizers produce 5 to 15 times more formaldehyde, a widely known carcinogen, than traditional cigarettes.
The second development is the release of a damning report from the California Department of Public Health entitled, “State Health Officer’s Report on E-Cigarettes: A Community Health Threat.” Per the state’s press release, findings include the following:
- Exposure to nicotine during adolescence can harm brain development.
- E-cigarettes do not emit a harmless water vapor, but an aerosol that has been found to contain at least 10 chemicals that are on California’s Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm.
- E-cigarettes are not FDA-approved cessation aids.
- Between 2011 and 2013, e-cigarette advertising jumped more than 1,200 percent and used marketing tactics to appeal to youth. Those tactics include the use of cartoon characters which is prohibited in traditional cigarette advertising.
What’s the moral of the story? Despite 50 years of arduous progress against tobacco, it looks like unless urgent action is taken, we risk being sent back to the 1950s on the number one public health issue.