Your Opinion: Cartoon clouds concerns about e-cigarettes

Dear Editor:

Jim Dyke persists in defending nicotine addiction in spite of the facts.

His cartoon of April 21 says an electronic cigarette is “zero tobacco with zero nicotine option” and “this safe product helps smokers quit before lawmakers lose money.”

First, “zero tobacco” — A federal judge ruled against the Food & Drug Administration’s attempt to regulate e-cigs as a nicotine delivery device in favor of an e-cig company’s argument the device, since the nicotine was derived from tobacco, is a tobacco product.

Second, “zero nicotine option” — FDA laboratory analysis of e-cig cartridges found wide variations in nicotine levels that were inconsistent with the labeling. Some cartridges labeled as no nicotine in fact contained up to 22 mgs of nicotine.

Third, “safe product” — Lab research found the vapor to contain volatile organic compounds, heavy metals, cancer-causing tobacco-specific nitrosamines, and ultrafine particles that can harm the lungs.

Fourth, “helps smokers quit” — Research to date does not show smokers using e-cigs to help quit smoking had much success. Instead, many became dual users. If e-cigs would help smokers quit, why haven’t any e-cig companies applied for FDA approval of their products as a smoking cessation product, as have the manufacturers of nicotine patches and gums?

Fifth, “must be stopped before lawmakers lose money” — The cigarette tax brings in less than one tenth of one percent of state revenues. This is not about lawmakers losing money, but about the tobacco industry enhancing their profits (Altria, Reynolds American and Lorillard each own e-cig companies).

Under the guise of protecting our kids from purchasing e-cigs, tobacco companies heavily lobbied bills in the House and Senate for their real purpose to exempt e-cigs from regulation.

Despite a letter from 40 attorneys general (including Missouri’s) urging FDA to regulate e-cigs as a tobacco product (and in agreement with the e-cig company claim mentioned above), both the House and Senate passed bills with the exemption.

The exemption was added after bills were heard in committees, which effectively prevented any testimonies.

Prohibiting sale of e-cigs to youth is an appropriate policy to help restrict another avenue of addiction to our youth. But, the exemption added to the bill goes beyond the stated purpose of protecting our youth and instead serves to protect tobacco industry profits.

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