The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has issued a health advisory report warning California residents of the “toxicity” of electronic cigarettes. According to CDPH director and state health officer Dr. Ron Chapman, “E-cigarettes contain nicotine and other harmful chemicals, and the nicotine in them is as addictive as the nicotine in cigarettes. There is a lot of misinformation about e-cigarettes. That is why, as the state’s health officer, I am advising Californians to avoid the use of e-cigarettes and keep them away from children of all ages.”
We all agree, electronic cigarettes should be kept out of the hands of minors. The CDPH’s recommendations of requiring leak-proof containers and child-resistant safety packaging should be a legally required, industry standard. Regulation, within reason, is not a bad thing. In fact, standardization ensures a quality product for consumers.
Dr. Chapman mentions the significance of misinformation surrounding e-cigs. However, in the same breath he makes a statement that is simply untrue. Yes, nicotine is addictive, but to say that “the nicotine in them [electronic cigarettes] is as addictive as the nicotine in cigarettes” is misleading. In fact, the journal Nature: Scientific Reports published a study on this very topic entitled Nicotine Absorption from Electronic Cigarette Use: Comparison Between First and New Generation Devices. According to this scientific study, “The results of the study showed that nicotine absorption from e-cigarettes was significantly lower compared to tobacco cigarettes.”
The Health Advisory also states, “there is no scientific evidence that e-cigarettes help smokers to successfully quit traditional cigarettes or that they reduce consumption of traditional cigarettes.” The report cites an article by Dr. Katrina Vickerman published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research to provide backing for this claim. However, the author of Vickerman’s article entitled Use of Electronic Cigarettes Among State Tobacco Cessation Quitline Callers stated, “The recently published article by Dr. Katrina Vickerman and colleagues has been misinterpreted by many who have written about it. It was never intended to assess the effectiveness of the e-cig as a mechanism to quit. ”
On the other hand, there are existing clinical trials which were conducted to determine the efficacy of electronic cigarettes as smoking cessation tools. Dr. Riccardo Polosa supplied one such study. Sadly, there was no reference to this in the Health Advisory.
While there are viable concerns surrounding electronic cigarettes (e.g. keeping them out of the hands of minors), it’s unfortunate the CDPH isn’t providing the public with accurate information to accomplish their agenda.