Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Action on Smoking and Health Warns that Secondhand Exposure to Electronic Cigarette Vapor Could Harm Nonsmokers Because It Contains Deadly Nicotine

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) wants electronic cigarettes to be regulated to protect nonsmokers because it claims that the exhaled vapor contains a "deadly" substance - nicotine.

In a public petition on its web site, ASH states: "If you don’t want people sitting next to you – in a waiting room, restaurant, bar, or any other area where smoking is now prohibited – using one of these devices to get around smoking bans, and forcing you and your loved ones to inhale deadly nicotine – please help now! ... Coming soon to a no-smoking section where you are sitting: A new device for addicted smokers who want to be able to get their nicotine fix by “smoking” in places where smoking is prohibited, and do so by exhaling a cloud of “smoke” made up of a chemical which is both toxic and addictive. This new product, already being sold and used in many U.S. cities, is called an e-cigarette."

The Rest of the Story

First of all, if ASH is so concerned about the harmful effects of exhaled nicotine, then shouldn't it be demanding that the Nicotrol nicotine inhaler be taken off the market? Why isn't ASH warning the public about potential exposure to nicotine from Nicotrol inhalers? Why single out electronic cigarettes? And where was ASH for the past 12 years that the Nicotrol inhaler has been on the market? Not once did I hear ASH complain about the potential health risks to nonsmokers of this type of nicotine inhaler. Why hasn't ASH written the FDA to demand that it study the effects of the nicotine inhaler on nonsmokers, since the exhaled breath of these smokers contains deadly nicotine?

Second of all, it is highly misleading to warn about the exhaled vapor of e-cigarette users containing deadly and addictive nicotine. Nicotine is quite readily absorbed and the concentration of nicotine in the exhaled vapor, which will be rapidly diluted, is likely to be quite low. It is certainly not going to be "deadly" for a nonsmoker to inhale nicotine from the exhaled vapor of an e-cigarette user.

ASH's propaganda makes it sound like if you are sitting near someone using an e-cigarette, you are potentially going to be at risk of death due to the deadly toxin: nicotine.

But ASH isn't warning people whose family members or friends use the Nicotrol inhaler to avoid exposure to those individuals when they are using that product. ASH isn't warning the public about the potential hazards of inhaling deadly nicotine that is contained in the exhaled breath of nicotine inhaler users.

Why not?

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