Although electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) have only been around since 2004, too little time for researchers to complete definitive studies on their effects on human health, Americans polled by STAT and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health have made up their minds: e-cigarettes are harmful to people’s health.
Manufacturers of e-cigarettes market their products as a safer alternative to tobacco cigarettes, and also an effective way to help people stop smoking altogether. The results of this poll suggest, however, that the public is not sold on the idea.
The use of e-cigarettes is increasing rapidly, particularly among youth, and both Republicans and Democrats would like to see more regulation of the e-cigarette industry, according to STAT News. Experts agree that e-cigarette regulations should address safety issues, such as:
- E-cigarettes should be safe to operate.
- The liquid used should be free of contaminants or toxins including diacetyl, which may cause harm to the respiratory system over time.
- The devices and liquid containers need to be childproof.
- E-cigarettes should not be sold to minors.
- Advertising that glamorizes and normalizes the use of e-cigarettes should be banned.
- E-cigarette companies should be required to provide data about the composition of nicotine cartridges and the health effects of the chemical compounds that accompany nicotine in the aerosol inhaled by e-smokers.
Since so little is known about the widespread effects of e-cigarettes, regulations could also create a system for reporting adverse events, such as the recent death of an 18-month-old New York child from drinking a vial of liquid nicotine. The child died from cardiac arrhythmia caused by nicotine ingestion, according to the coroner’s report.
After the incident, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill requiring child-resistant packaging on all liquid nicotine sold in the state, and banning the sale of the substance to those under 18. Liquid nicotine is toxic in doses as small as one-half teaspoon, and even a small amount splashed on a child’s skin can make them very ill, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.