Journal of Nursing

Electronic Cigarette Use Up, CDC Concerned About Unknowns.


SAUSALITO, CA (ASRN.ORG) -- A new study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows electronic cigarettes (or e-cigarettes) are becoming more popular with adults. According to the new figures, one in five American adults have tried an electronic cigarette, a number that represents a steady increase over the past three years. This study was followed up with a statement from an anti-smoking advocacy group urging the FDA to begin regulating e-cigarettes along with all other tobacco products.

The CDC report claims 21 percent of American adult smokers had tried e-cigarettes in 2011, more than double the 10 percent reported a year earlier. In 2011, six percent of all adults, not just smokers, had tried an electronic cigarette, a number that once again doubles the figures found in 2010.

The CDC also found this e-cigarette usage is up amongst white men and women between the ages of 45 and 54. These adults are either current or former smokers and most often live in the South. Though more adults are trying e-cigarettes, it seems current smokers are more likely to stick with it. Yet, as more adults are trying these cigarettes, more people are becoming aware. The CDC study found six in 10 American adults had become aware of e-cigarettes, up tom four in 10 in 2010. This is particularly dangerous, says CDC director Ton Frieden, MD, MPH, because there are still many unknowns about the long-term effects of using these products.

“E-cigarette use is growing rapidly,” said Dr. Frieden in a statement.

“There is still a lot we don’t know about these products, including whether they will decrease or increase use of traditional cigarettes.”

Early studies have shown there are fewer toxins in an e-cigarette than a traditional paper cigarette. However, Dr. Frieden and many others worry about the long-term effects of smoking these e-cigarettes.

It is for this reason and others that Matthew L Meyers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is now urging the FDA to begin regulating these cigarettes along with all other tobacco products.

“The growing use of e-cigarettes and the unproven health claims being made about them underscore the need for the Food and Drug Administration to quickly assert authority over all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes,’ writes Myers in a statement.

Electronic cigarettes are often marketed as a way to quit smoking, a claim that has proven difficult to prove scientifically. A recent report found e-cigarettes do not offer a safer substitution to cigarettes, nor do they help smokers kick the habit.

That the cigarettes are being advertised as a safe alternative worries people like Myers, who are concerned children will start smoking these cigarettes and eventually become hooked on the real thing. As there has yet to be any conclusive evidence about the long-term effects of smoking e-cigarettes, these young smokers could be playing a potentially deadly game.

“If they want to claim that e-cigarettes are a healthier alternative to other tobacco products, they should follow the process established by the 2009 law for doing so,” Myers said.

“The law establishes safeguards to ensure that such claims are supported by science and don’t do more harm than good by encouraging kids to start using tobacco or discouraging current tobacco users from quitting.”


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