Wednesday January 22, 2020

US Health Officials Restrict Sales of E-Cigarettes

The new guidelines, first proposed in November, are the latest government effort to reverse what health officials call an epidemic of underage vaping

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FILE - A woman smokes an electronic cigarette in London, Aug. 19, 2015. VOA

U.S. health regulators are moving ahead with a plan designed to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of teenagers by restricting sales of most flavored products in convenience stores and online.

The new guidelines, first proposed in November, are the latest government effort to reverse what health officials call an epidemic of underage vaping.

E-cigarettes typically heat a flavored nicotine solution into an inhalable vapor. Federal law bans their sale to those under 18, but 1 in 5 high school students report using e-cigarettes, according to the latest survey published last year.

Under proposed guidelines released Wednesday by the Food and Drug Administration, e-cigarette makers would restrict sales of most flavored products to stores that verify the age of customers entering the store or include a separate, age-restricted area for vaping products. Companies would also be expected to use third-party identity-verification technology for online sales.

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Companies that don’t follow the requirements risk having their products pulled from the market, the FDA said. Pixabay

Companies that don’t follow the requirements risk having their products pulled from the market, the FDA said.

“The onus is now on the companies and the vaping industry to work with us to try and bring down these levels of youth use, which are simply intolerable,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in an interview. The restrictions won’t apply to three flavors that the FDA says appeal more to adults than teenagers: tobacco, menthol and mint.

The FDA will accept comments on the guidelines for 30 days before finalizing them later this year.

Anti-smoking activists have questioned whether the in-store restrictions will be enough to stop the unprecedented surge in teen vaping. The FDA has little authority over how stores display and sell vaping products. Instead, critics say the agency is essentially telling companies to self-police where and how their products are sold.

“FDA continues to nibble around the edges and that will not end the epidemic,” said Erika Sward, of the American Lung Association, which has called on the FDA to remove all flavored e-cigarettes from the market.

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Health experts say nicotine is harmful to developing brains, and some researchers worry that addicted teens will eventually switch from vaping to smoking. Pixabay

Health experts say nicotine is harmful to developing brains, and some researchers worry that addicted teens will eventually switch from vaping to smoking.

ALSO READ: Longer Exposure to PM2.5 Raises Risk of Diabetes: Study

Under regulations developed by the Obama administration, manufacturers were supposed to submit e-cigarettes for safety and health review by August 2018. But Gottlieb delayed the deadline until 2022, saying both the agency and industry needed more time to prepare. Under Wednesday’s update, the FDA will move the deadline to 2021.

Still, the American Lung Association and several other anti-smoking groups are suing the FDA to begin reviewing the safety and health effects of e-cigarettes immediately. (VOA)

Next Story

E-Cigarette Users may Develop Chronic Lung Diseases: Study

E-cigarettes may raise risk of asthma, bronchitis: Study

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E-cigarette use significantly increases a person's risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Pixabay

E-cigarette use significantly increases a person’s risk of developing chronic lung diseases like asthma, bronchitis, emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, says a new study.

The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, also found that people who used e-cigarettes and also smoked tobacco — by far the most common pattern among adult e-cigarette users — were at an even higher risk of developing chronic lung disease than those who used either product alone.

“What we found is that for e-cigarette users, the odds of developing lung disease increased by about a third, even after controlling for their tobacco use and their clinical and demographic information,” said study senior author Stanton Glantz, PhD, Professor at the University of California in the US.

“We concluded that e-cigarettes are harmful on their own, and the effects are independent of smoking conventional tobacco,” Glantz said.

The findings are based on an analysis of publicly available data from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH), which tracked e-cigarette and tobacco habits as well as new lung disease diagnoses in over 32,000 American adults from 2013 to 2016.

Though several earlier population studies had found an association between e-cigarette use and lung disease at a single point in time, these cross-sectional studies provided a snapshot that made it impossible for researchers to say whether lung disease was being caused by e-cigarettes or if people with lung disease were more likely to use e-cigarettes.

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E-cigarettes are harmful on their own, and the effects are independent of smoking conventional tobacco. Pixabay

By starting with people who did not have any reported lung disease, taking account of their e-cigarette use and smoking from the start, and then following them for three years, this study offers stronger evidence of a causal link between adult e-cigarette use and lung diseases than prior studies.

Though current and former e-cigarette users were 1.3 times more likely to develop chronic lung disease, tobacco smokers increased their risk by a factor of 2.6.

“Dual users — the most common use pattern among people who use e-cigarettes — get the combined risk of e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes, so they’re actually worse off than tobacco smokers,” said Glantz.

The study also found that switching from smoked tobacco to e-cigarettes lowered the risk of developing lung disease, fewer than one per cent of the smokers had completely switched to e-cigarettes.

Importantly, the results reported in this study are unrelated to EVALI (E-cigarette or Vaping Product Use-Associated Lung Injury), the acute lung disease first reported last summer, severe cases of which sent several e-cigarette users to the hospital and others to an early grave.

Though scientists are still working to determine the cause of EVALI, prior physiological studies in both animals and humans found that e-cigarettes suppress the immune system and increase the levels of stress-related proteins in the lungs.

Also Read- Food Labels Must Inform People the Amount of Exercise Needed to Burn Calories: Study

And chemical analyses showed that e-cigarettes contain higher levels of certain toxic chemicals than conventional cigarettes.

But the new study shows that these are not the only health threats posed by e-cigarettes.

“This study contributes to the growing case that e-cigarettes have long-term adverse effects on health and are making the tobacco epidemic worse,” Glantz added. (IANS)