tocacco plant Native American Tobaccoo flower, leaves, and buds

tocacco Tobacco is an annual or bi-annual growing 1-3 meters tall with large sticky leaves that contain nicotine. Native to the Americas, tobacco has a long history of use as a shamanic inebriant and stimulant. It is extremely popular and well-known for its addictive potential.

tocacco nicotina Nicotiana tabacum

tocacco Nicotiana rustica leaves. Nicotiana rustica leaves have a nicotine content as high as 9%, whereas Nicotiana tabacum (common tobacco) leaves contain about 1 to 3%

tocacco cigar A cigar is a tightly rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco which is ignited so that its smoke may be drawn into the mouth. Cigar tobacco is grown in significant quantities in Brazil, Cameroon, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Sumatra, Philippines, and the Eastern United States.

tocacco Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the fresh leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as an organic pesticide, and in the form of nicotine tartrate it is used in some medicines. In consumption it may be in the form of cigarettes smoking, snuffing, chewing, dipping tobacco, or snus.

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E-cigarettes: In need of FDA regulation?

New York - They look like cigarettes, but they have names most people have never heard of: Gamucci, Cloud 9, and Njoy.

That’s because they are electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes. These battery-powered devices do not create smoke but provide a mist of nicotine to the user’s lungs.

These items are about to become better known because a federal judge is expected to decide shortly on whether the Food and Drug Administration has authority to regulate them. The devices, which do not contain tobacco, are already being sold around the country.

From the FDA’s viewpoint, the e-smokes are “drug delivery” devices, the same as nicotine gum, which is regulated by the agency. The industry association for the product describes it as an “alternative to tobacco,” and the association says it would like to work with the FDA. The public-health community is divided, with some wanting to see more research on the items and others seeing them as a way to help people quit tobacco use.

Already, e-cigarettes are entering the public arena.

One airline, Ryanair, which mainly operates in Europe, not only permits their use on flights, but also sells them to passengers. Some “no smoking” restaurants in the United States are permitting their use, say advocates for the product.

The devices are also available as e-cigars and e-pipes.

“Two years ago, no one had ever heard of these things,” says Matt Salmon, president of the Electronic Cigarette Association (ECA) in Washington.

“Today, there is an estimate there are 300,000 users, but I think it’s in excess of that,” says Mr. Salmon, an antismoking advocate and former congressman.

In the e-cigarettes, most of which are made in China, there is no combustion of tobacco. Instead, the device contains a lithium battery. That heats up an atomizer, which turns the nicotine into a vapor.

When the user inhales the vapor, the device’s tip glows with a red LED light to mimic the experience of smoking a cigarette.

On e-cigarette websites, former tobacco users offer testimonials about how the new product has saved their lives.

But John Banzhaf, a professor at George Washington University Law School who also heads up an organization called Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), wonders if there is a cardiovascular risk for e-smoke users. And, he adds, “We don’t know to what extent kids get hooked.”

Enter the FDA.

They have looked at those websites and more. “Some of the product information says you can use the e-cigarettes to help quit smoking,” says Siobhan DeLancey, a spokeswoman for the FDA. The agency believes the products should be brought to it for premarket approval, and data should be presented showing the product is safe and effective for its intended use.

In July, the FDA did preliminary research, buying some of the products online and at shopping-center kiosks. The products were “inconsistent” in their levels of nicotine, Ms. DeLancey says.

However, some of the urban legends about the FDA wanting to ban the products are not true, DeLancey says. “What we are saying is for them to be sold, you should be able to evaluate how safe and effective they are – especially if they are a smoking replacement used over several years, perhaps a lifetime,” she says.

In February, one manufacturer, Smoking Everywhere, which is not a member of the ECA, sued the FDA, claiming it did not have jurisdiction. Shortly, federal judge Richard Leon in Washington is expected to rule.

“It will be a seminal moment,” says Mr. Banzhaf.

By Ron Scherer Science Monitor
October 17, 2009

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1 comment to E-cigarettes: In need of FDA regulation?

  • The most e-cigarette supporters can hope for is visible warnings on all packaging and advertising similar to tobacco. If they get grouped with the patch or nicotine inhalers then they would be considered a nicotine delivery system which is what the FDA wants but not e-cigarette distributors because they know the FDA will then require studies on the safety of e-cigarettes which will cost millions and take around 5 years to complete and so ends e-cigarettes.

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