The Southern Nevada Health District today has issued a health advisory regarding electronic cigarettes in response to an increase in their use across the United States and in Clark County. The Health District encourages policymakers, health care providers, parents, and e-cigarette users to educate themselves regarding the harmful chemicals in these products and to limit their availability in the community.
Marketed as a product that is safe to use, electronic cigarettes are not required to meet certain standards regarding ingredients nor is there any standardization. Studies continue to reveal that ingredients in electronic cigarettes include chemicals that are classified as carcinogens. The products release ‘vapor’ that contains nicotine as well as ultrafine particles and low levels of toxins known to cause cancer – these are in concentrations that are higher than in conventional tobacco smoke. In addition, the Centers of Disease Control & Prevention has reported an increase in the number of calls to poison control centers about e-cigarette liquids that contain nicotine. Many of these involve children and pets who have accidentally ingested the liquid nicotine.
The Health District encourages lawmakers to include electronic cigarettes and all other types of devices in the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act and to treat them the same as traditional cigarettes. In addition, the Health District supports efforts to place age, marketing and flavor restrictions on e-cigarette devices, taxing electronic cigarette components as tobacco products, require tobacco retail licensure to sell the products, and restrict sales to minors.
A federal court in 2010 ruled that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could regulate electronic cigarettes as tobacco products under the Tobacco Control Act but not as cessation aids following a lawsuit by e-cigarette manufacturers. In 2011, the FDA announced its intent to regulate electronic cigarettes which includes marketing restrictions, mandated ingredient listings and a pre-market review. Regulations are expected soon.
“Electronic cigarettes have become a new trend among young people with national companies using celebrities to advertise their products. If appropriate restrictions are not put into place now, the recent efforts of public health to limit smoking and to make the habit socially unacceptable will be reversed,” said Joe Iser, Chief Health Officer.
The Health District also encourages health care providers to ask their patients about tobacco use and to provide the most up-to-date scientific information to their patients about electronic cigarettes. Brief tobacco use interventions for health care providers are available on the Health District’s GetHealthyClarkCounty.org, website.
“We encourage everyone to quit smoking because it is one of the best things a person can do to improve his health. However, we want them to make informed choices if they are planning to use a smoking cessation device. E-cigarettes have not been approved to be marketed and sold as a cessation device,” said Iser. “There are other effective tools that are approved and successful in the effort to quit smoking.”
The Health District’s Get Healthy Clark County website also includes information about tobacco products as well as information about tools to quit smoking, including the Nevada Quitline 1-800-QUIT NOW, a service for all Nevadans.