For many smokers, switching to electronic cigarettes seems like a safe alternative to smoking, or even a way to gradually kick the habit. Unfortunately, it’s not true. The fact is that electronic cigarettes deliver high doses of nicotine to users, and nicotine is highly addictive.
Last week, the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) announced their support of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) actions against distributors of electronic cigarettes. The FDA recently issued warning letters to five leading distributors for violations of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act for unsubstantiated health claims, deceptive marketing tactics and poor manufacturing practices. The FDA also announced its intention to regulate electronic cigarettes and related products. HEALTH reports that electronical cigarettes are sold locally by Providence-based Cigotine LLC.
“There is no reliable science to support the claims that local electronic cigarette vendors are making,” said Director of Health David R. Gifford, MD, MPH. “Recent research suggests that electronic cigarettes contain carcinogens and other toxic chemicals. In February 2009, Rhode Island and many other states asked FDA to review this product and require premarket approval of it. We are pleased that the FDA has taken these steps to combat a public health threat.”
The FDA asserts that electronic cigarettes should be subject to FDA regulation as drugs because they deliver potentially harmful doses of nicotine to users – a drug found to cause addiction as powerful and self-enforcing as addiction to cocaine or heroin. For a drug to gain FDA approval and for statements to be made about its ability to prevent or treat illness or disease, it must meet strict safety, efficacy, and manufacturing standards. Because electronic cigarettes are not regulated by the FDA, companies are not required to report a list of ingredients, the quantity of each ingredient or the potency of each ingredient.
Rather than switching to electronic cigarettes, HEALTH recommends that smokers consult with a healthcare provider or a pharmacist to identify an approved cessation therapy. One option is the Rhode Island Tobacco Control Quitline at 1-800-Try-to-Stop (1-800-879-8678), where services are offered at no-cost to Rhode Islanders. The Miriam Hospital also offers a number of programs and research studies. The American Cancer Society also offers tips to quit smoking.
You can read more on the FDA’s action against electronic cigarette distributors here, You can also read the warning letters here.
Do you smoke? Do you want to quit? Have you tried electronic cigarettes? Would the new warnings make you think twice about them? Share your story with us.