CDC: Electronic Cigarettes Gaining Awareness, Use
Increased awareness and use of electronic cigarettes in the U.S. outlined in a study released Thursday highlights the need for government regulation and evaluation, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s office on smoking and health said.
Nearly six in 10 adults in the U.S. are aware of the battery-powered devices that heat a liquid nicotine solution and create vapor that users inhale, according the first study to assess the change in awareness and use of electronic cigarettes on a national level. The CDC report published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research also said about one in five current smokers reported having used an electronic cigarette.
"These finding sort of tantalizingly underscore the need for more rigorous study of patterns of use of e-cigarettes and impacts," Dr. Tim McAfee said in an interview with The Associated Press. "Until there’s regulatory authority and oversight, it’s going to be more difficult to be certainly reassuring around things like toxic effects."
Some of the nation’s largest tobacco companies have gotten into the e-cig market as part of the industrywide push to diversify beyond the traditional cigarette business. Reynolds American Inc., the second-biggest U.S. cigarette maker, has begun limited distribution of its first electronic cigarette under the Vuse brand. Lorillard Inc., the nation’s third-biggest tobacco company, acquired e-cigarette maker Blu Ecigs in April. Some e-cigarettes are made to look like a cigarette with a tiny light on the tip that glows like the real thing.
The Food and Drug Administration says e-cigarettes have not been fully studied. The federal agency is expected to assert regulatory authority over e-cigarettes later this year to treat them the same as traditional cigarettes and other tobacco products.
The FDA has said its tests found that the liquid in some electronic cigarettes contained toxins besides nicotine as well as cancer-causing substances that occur naturally in tobacco. But some public health experts say the level of carcinogens was comparable to those found in nicotine replacement therapy, because the nicotine in all of the products is extracted from tobacco.