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Your Opinion: Cartoon mischaracterizes e-cigarette emissions

Dear Editor:

Once again, it appears Jim Dyke has not bothered with even a modicum of research of the science before creating yet another cartoon defending nicotine addiction. He purported that electronic cigarettes are tobacco-free and vapor only. That is not the case.

A few years ago the Food & Drug Administration attempted to regulate e-cigarettes as a nicotine delivery device. In a suit filed by an e-cigarette company, a federal judge ruled against the FDA and declared since the nicotine in the e-cigarette was derived from tobacco, it was therefore a tobacco product. After a lengthy public comment period, the FDA is expected to soon issue a decision on whether to regulate e-cigarettes as a tobacco product.

While Dyke implies the emission is merely a vapor, laboratory research to date shows otherwise. Several studies have found emitted aerosol to contain volatile organic compounds (such as formaldehyde and toluene), heavy metals (such as cadmium, nickel and lead), tobacco-specific nitrosamines (known to cause cancer in humans), and ultrafine particles that can cause airway restriction and inflammation of the lungs.

I will grant that e-cigarette emissions are likely less polluting than conventional cigarette smoke, but less polluting does not mean pollution-free and not of health concern.

Meanwhile there is a legitimate debate whether e-cigarettes have the potential for smokers to reduce consumption or even quit conventional cigarettes. However, none of the e-cigarette companies have offered any evidence their products are effective for that purpose nor have they submitted their products to the FDA for approval as a smoking cessation product.

As nearly two-thirds of Missouri smokers have indicated a desire to quit within the next six months, they are encouraged to use the FDA approved medications available at many retailers and also to take advantage of the free quit assistance available from the Missouri Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-Quit-Now.