The American Heart Association has worked tirelessly for decades to educate the public about the dangers of smoking. For years, they’ve been working to push forward legislation to regulate their sales. Thanks to evidence and research performed by the AHA and its partners, the control efforts have cut the youth smoking rate from 1997 to 2007 in half. This progress has saved over 8 million lives in the past 50 years alone. Despite this impressive feat, their work is far from over.
Tobacco industries have been pushing a new product over the past few years: the e-cigarette. E-cigarettes are advertised as being safer than normal cigarettes. They’re even framed as a product that helps those interested in quitting smoking. No matter how they’re marketed, trust the AHA and know better than to take these claims at face value. About 50 years ago tobacco industries put low-tar cigarettes on the market. Just like e-cigarettes, they were advertised as being safer than regular cigarettes, and this claim not only got the current smokers of the time to switch over, but it also convinced a new generation of smokers to start. Low-tar cigarettes turned out to increase lung cancer chances and were no better for the heart.
Learning from history, the AHA has been quick to push forward more regulation and clinical testing behind the claims of e-cigarettes. The AHA recently released a policy statement on electronic cigarettes to emphasize the importance of e-cigarette regulation. As it stands now, e-cigarettes are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Also, there have been no significant studies to support the claim that e-cigarettes are safer and can be used as a tool to help quit smoking. Without regulation, the AHA fears e-cigarettes will become the new low-tar cigarettes of the past, and with their growing popularity and new reports of high nicotine exposure from e-cigarettes appearing, it’s not hard to see why.
While it may seem like a good idea to create safe smoking e-cigarettes to act as smoking cessation aids, such products only normalize the action of smoking itself and cause the habit to embed itself deeply in the patient’s behavior. Part of the appeal, especially with e-cigarettes today, is that smoking is treated as a recreational norm. If smoking is no longer a normal activity, the habit will die down on its own.
To learn more about heart health and cardiac monitoring devices, continue to browse through the ReactDx Inc. blogs. What do you think about e-cigarettes? Do you think they’ll become the new low-tar cigarette?