Safety of e-cigarettes needs to be studied more

Johnson City Press • Feb 18, 2014 at 9:11 AM

Teenagers shouldn’t smoke — period. That includes electronic cigarettes, which with their various flavors, have become popular among some young people.E-cigs don’t burn. Instead, they are battery powered nicotine-delivery devices that release liquid vapors instead of smoke.Some people think they are a safer alternative to tobacco. Others think they are just as dangerous to one’s health, and should be regulated the same as tobacco.The Food and Drug Administration agrees with the latter, and regulates e-cigarettes the same as it does tobacco products.A FDA study found the liquid in some electronic cigarettes contained toxins besides nicotine. At this point, however, nobody has studied what onlookers might be inhaling.Dr. Mirle Girish, a Mountain States Medical Group pulmonologist and a clinical associate professor at the East Tennessee State University Quillen College of Medicine, told the Press in September some users have seen medical problems associated with using the product, including lipid pneumonia — a type of pneumonia where lipids enter the bronchial tree.Last week, the Tennessee Department of Health issued a public health advisory caution on the use of electronic cigarettes. The department also expressed concern about the inadequate oversight of the sale of e-cigs and the need for a study to gauge the health effects of second-hand exposure to their vapors.Perhaps Tennessee lawmakers should follow the lead of their counterparts in Ohio, who are moving passage of legislation to keep electronic cigarettes out of the hands of those under age 18. Tennessee legislators should also look to clarify the statewide public smoking ban by specifically including e-cigs in the measure.

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