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 Cause Acute Health Risks

E-cigarettes pose “acute health risks” which “cannot seriously be questioned” because they contain “toxic chemicals,” and the devices also “presents a serious risk of addicting new users, including children,” the Food and Drug Administration [FDA] has just reported to a court about to decide whether sellers may continue to import the new products into the U.S.

With a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals imminent, the FDA has also warned that:
* e-cigarette users suffer from a wide variety of potentially serious symptoms “including racing pulse, dizziness, slurred speech, mouth ulcers, heartburn, coughing, diarrhea, and sore throat”
* “nicotine [one of the two major chemicals used in the product] in high doses can be dangerous and even fatal”
* the toxic chemical diethylene glycol was found in the e-cigarettes which were tested
* various mutagenic, carcinogenic, and genotoxic chemicals were also present in the products
* the cartridges containing the nicotine and other toxic chemicals, many of which come from China, are subject to “none of the manufacturing controls required for FDA-approved nicotine-delivery products” [like nicotine gum, patches, inhalers, sprays, etc.].

The FDA concluded that: “the danger posed by the unrestricted distribution of unregulated products containing toxic chemicals cannot seriously be questioned. Even apart from the acute health risks that these products pose, there is no dispute that the nicotine is ‘a highly addictive pharmacological agent.’”

Jonathan P. Winickoff, MD, MPH, the chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Tobacco Consortium who helped the FDA study the issue noted: “The primary claim that there is a net benefit for the public health is just unproven, and there’s a very real risk that even people who have not used any tobacco products — including children and young adults — start with an e-cigarette thinking it’s safe.”

These appear to be some of the concerns that prompted the World Health Organization to say that it does not consider e-cigarettes to be a legitimate therapy. Many major public health organizations have called for them to be banned.

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has been leading the battle to have these new products regulated by the FDA, and to protect those around e-cigarette users (including the elderly and those with allergies) from being forced to inhale large amounts of nicotine (a highly addictive and deadly drug which can trigger fatal heart attacks), and propylene glycol (a respiratory irritant used in antifreeze and known to cause respiratory tract infections).

ASH pointed out in court that at least one manufacturer has been adding Cialis to its e-cigarettes, at least suggesting that other sellers might also add additional drugs to their products. ASH’s concerns about e-cigarettes include:

1. Smokers who otherwise would be able to quit with sufficient assistance and/or because of higher taxes may instead switch to e-cigarettes which, while they may have a lower cancer risk, may present an equal or even higher risk of fatal heart attacks, the major cause of death from smoking.

2. There may be a potential risk from users repeatedly inhaling, over a considerable period of time, large amounts of propylene glycol — a respiratory irritant used in antifreeze and known to cause respiratory tract infections.

3. Just as generations of children were led to become smokers by pretending to puff on candy cigarettes, today’s teenagers may likewise find e-cigarettes — with their many kid-friendly flavors — training wheels for becoming smokers.

4. There may be a serious risk to those around e-cigarette users (including young children, the elderly, and those with allergies) from being forced to inhale large amounts of nicotine (a highly addictive and deadly drug which can trigger fatal heart attacks), and propylene glycol (a respiratory irritant used in antifreeze and known to cause respiratory tract infections).

E-cigarettes are now subject to FDA regulation, but it remains to be seen how strictly they can and will be regulated, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf, who participated in the court proceedings.

ASH also helped persuade both the State of New Jersey and Suffolk County, New York, to ban the use of the product in no-smoking sections to protect bystanders, including the elderly, those with allergies, and children. E-cigarettes have already been banned in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Israel, and Mexico, and restricted in Finland, Malaysia, and Singapore, and the UK is posed to begin regulating them as drugs. They are the subject of law suits brought by attorneys general in several states, and of a national class-action law suit which is pending.

Professor of Public Interest Law at GWU,
FAMRI Dr. William Cahan Distinguished Professor,
FELLOW, World Technology Network, and
Executive Director and Chief Counsel
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
America’s First Antismoking Organization
2013 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006, USA
(202) 659-4310 // (703) 527-8418

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4 comments to E-Cigarettes Cause Acute Health Risks

  • Kate

    The plan for pharmaceutical company supporters is to shut down worldwide nicotine markets except medical and tobacco sources. They don’t know the difference between smoke and nicotine and are waging a war on addiction itself rather than the cause of harm. They pretend they do not understand recreational use.

    If NRT works then why do so many people smoke? Would ecigs work if pharm companies had a monopoly - no because they would lose their captive customers.

    They’ll leave us with the deadliest and most ineffective nicotine and remove whatever stands in the way of their candy flavour lozenges.

  • David Hooks

    It’s nice to see that all these companies and organisations are so keen to smack down and ban a product that sees smokers give up cigarettes on health grounds. If they’re so keen to improve people’s health then why don’t they ban cigarettes? Oh, wait, yeah, tax revenue from tobacco products is FAR higher than the tax from the e-cig cartridges. I have used my e-cig for about 2 months now and that’s the longest time I’ve gone without cigarettes for 12 years. Leave us alone and let us enjoy our nicotine without the 4000 chemicals in normal cigarettes.

  • Charlie Thrun

    Next to my computer, in plain sight, is half a pack of dusty cigarettes.

    They’ve been there for the last six months, hardly touched in that time. That is the length of time I’ve been smoking e-cigs. I rarely have an urge to smoke a regular cig — that only on the rare occasions when my two batteries are both charging.

    I’ve never tried to quit and, now over seventy, doubt I ever will. Formerly a man who’d acquired just about every vice in the book, smoking is now the only one left to me. Don’t take that away as a matter of political expediency.

    Don’t give me that health crap. We all know it’s a matter of politics and the money involved.

    E-cigs are obviously a much safer way to dispense nicotine. Any health nut would have to agree. So, what’s the beef?

    The beef is this attitude of “zero tolerance” now being applied to matters that should be no concern to those not directly involved.

    Many of these problems are caused by well-meaning people sticking their noses where they don’t belong. We have people who have never smoked a joint, and having no acquaintance with anyone who has, judging marijuana. People who don’t know what the initials L.S.D stand for, judging that issue.

    People who have never seen or been involved in warfare, blithely waving flags and cheering soldier’s on.

    This is getting too long. If you don’t smoke, stay out of my living room. You’re not welcome there.

    As for nicotine, it’s not any more harmful than caffeine. Besides being used in a few cheap anti-freezes, propylene glycol is also a common food additive. So much for the danger. Those two chemicals, plus flavoring (also sold as food flavorings) are the three components of e-cig liquid.


  • Phillip

    There is a little dishonesty in this. Mainly on Propylene Glycol.
    First it’s use:
    It is used in food, Medicine, flavorings, smoke machines (night clubs and concerts anyone?).
    It can be used in NON-TOXIC Ant-freeze.
    Second studies:
    There have been studies on animals that Propylene Glycol had no harmful effects on lung activity.
    Some people can be allergic, but only in high dosage. So while I let out my e-cig vapor and you’re walking by. IT WON’T HURT YOU. If it did the fire department, theaters, clubs, and bands using it would be sued.

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