California Declares E-Cigarettes Public Health Hazard

The California Department of Public Health recently issued a strong statement condemning e-cigarettes as a health threat and asking they be regulated as if they were tobacco products.

In doing so, the department was following the lead of health officials in several other states as concern grows about the sudden expansion of the market for this potentially dangerous pseudo-cigarette.

Nicotine Still Present In E-Cigarettes

California E-Cigarettes Public Health Hazard - Physician HealthThere is no tobacco in e-cigarettes. Liquid nicotine is the primary base ingredient, however, and that is the same substance that gives a tobacco cigarette its highly addictive quality.

In an e-cigarette, the nicotine is heated and ultimately vaporized inside metal or plastic tubes. The user inhales this vapor into the lungs and exhales it in a puff; just as if it were smoke (the process is called vaping).

Overall, the taste and sensation of “smoking” these unconventional addict-makers is similar to what is experienced with the conventional cigarette, which might explain why the demand for e-cigarettes has expanded so rapidly.

Are E-Cigs Really Safer?

Because tobacco and tar have been eliminated, e-cigarettes are advertised as a cleaner, safer type of nicotine delivery system. However, in addition to nicotine (a known neurotoxin), e-cigarette emissions contain a number of poisonous chemicals and cancer-causing agents.

E-cigarette producers (some of which are the same companies that make tobacco products) claim the concentrations of these chemicals are too low to generate concern, and in 2013 a team of researchers published evidence in the journal Tobacco Control that seemed to confirm this assertion.

The scientists performed a detailed chemical analysis of the vapor created in the e-cigarette consumption process, and the potentially dangerous substances they detected were only present in quantities ranging from nine to 450 times less than what would be found in the inhalable residue of a tobacco cigarette.

Big Tobacco Trying To Gain Profit In A Different Way

But this has not reassured skeptics, who see the e-cigarette craze as part of a strategy by Big Tobacco to remain viable and profitable despite changing social mores and patterns of behavior.

Fifty years after the surgeon general’s report, cigarette smoking is finally fading in popularity, pushed toward extinction in the United States by health concerns, anti-smoking laws and draconian taxes that have pushed prices into the stratosphere.

Young people in particular have begun avoiding cigarettes like the plague (which is exactly what they are) and that has put the tobacco companies in a bind, since they need a steady supply of new smokers to pick up the habit in order to replace those who die from lung cancer, coronary disease or emphysema.

Successful businesses must have chameleon-like qualities if they expect to last for the long haul. E-cigarettes weren’t invented by the tobacco companies, but Big Tobacco is now jumping into the market feet first and with unbridled enthusiasm, clearly sensing the potential for financial salvation.

Because they contain nicotine, e-cigarettes are addictive just like regular cigarettes, and that makes them the ideal alternative for an industry that relies on a captive audience.

Kids Aren’t Smoking, But They Are Vaping

And best of all (from a predatory capitalist perspective), e-cigarettes are proving to be wildly popular with the younger generation, who seem to have been persuaded by the industry campaign that touts the safety and cleanliness of these products.

And just how popular are e-cigarettes with the middle school and high school crowd these days? Popular enough that they have surpassed regular cigarettes in frequency of use in the teen demographic.

In responses registered by the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s 2014 Monitoring the Future report, 9 percent of eighth-graders, 16 percent of 10th-graders and 17 percent of 12th-graders admitted to using e-cigarettes at least once within the past month.

The figures for traditional cigarettes were only 4 percent, 7 percent and 14 percent respectively among these groups, which represents a plunge off the cliff in comparison to where things stood just a couple of decades ago.

Slowly Evolving Politics Of E-Cigarettes

It is this huge burst in popularity among youth that has officials in California so concerned. There is no such thing as a safe level of a toxic chemical, and anytime we consume e-cigs, we are putting ourselves at risk.

The California Department of Public Health’s statements about e-cigarettes were timed to coincide with political developments.

State Sen. Mark Leno has introduced a bill that would ban the use of e-cigarettes in most public places. Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration wants to expand the Tobacco Control Act to include this new version of the cigarette, which would give the federal government much greater power in limiting the marketing, distribution and availability of this new type of cancer and poison delivery system.

But at least for now, e-cigarettes are safe and protected, hidden away from scrutiny and regulation somewhere below the cracks they managed to fall through. As an example of their exalted status, advertising for e-cigarettes is currently permitted, as is the use of candy or fruit flavors that are likely to appeal to younger people—neither of which is legal with combustible tobacco products.

Public health and elected officials will likely catch up to the machinations of the e-cigarette eventually. But for the moment, the producers of these dubious tobacco replicates are free to do as they please; and while we all wait for new regulatory statutes, a whole new generation of nicotine addicts is coming online.

Read Our Other Posts On Laws And Regulations

Pin It on Pinterest