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The American Medical Association called November 19th for an immediate ban on all electronic cigarettes and vaping devices. At a policy-making meeting in San Diego, the group announced it aims to lobby for state and federal laws, regulations, or legal action to achieve a ban.
The AMA, which has previously sought bans on e-cigarette flavors and ads, stated there is a surge in underage teen use of e-cigarettes, which typically work by heating a solution containing nicotine.
“It’s simple, we must keep nicotine products out of the hands of young people,” said Dr. Patrice Harris, M.D., M.A., president of the AMA, in a statement.
Medical concern is borne from a specific health issue that prompted doctors to act — the recent U.S. outbreak of lung illnesses linked to vaping. Most of those who fell sick said they did not vape nicotine but THC, the high-inducing ingredient in marijuana. A thickening agent used in black market THC vaping products may be a culprit, according to officials.
The outbreak has “shined a light on the fact that we have very little evidence about the short- and long-term health consequences of e-cigarettes and vaping products,” Harris said. About 2,100 people became sick; 42 lost their lives.
The industry is expected to fight the AMA. Some observers say the association’s position is flawed, so chances of achieving a sweeping ban are slim.
“I would be 100% with the AMA if they were seeking a ban on all tobacco products that are smoked, including e-cigarettes,” said Jonathan Foulds, a tobacco addiction specialist at Penn State University. “But right now, nicotine electronic cigarettes are competing with and replacing the most harmful legal product in this country.”
According to Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, a pro-vaping advocacy group, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s focus “is not store-bought nicotine vaping products, but illicit contaminated THC oil cartridges sold by drug dealers.”
“It would be a mistake for adult smokers and their families to listen to these misguided prohibitionists, as the evidence continues to indicate that adult smokers who switch to nicotine vaping products greatly improve their health,” Conley said.
The other issue is that AMA is trying to ban unapproved vaping products. Currently, however, none have been reviewed or approved for vaping by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Besides the effects on people’s lungs, use of e-cigarettes every day can nearly double the odds of a heart attack, UCSF researchers found. Published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine on August 22, 2018, the study also shows that users do not give up conventional cigarettes, and switching daily between the two – which is a common practice among users – raises heart attack risk up to five times more compared to people who don’t use either product. Many health associations, including The American Heart Association and the American Medical Association, have been committed to reducing the number of people suffering from heart attacks and strokes. In its 15 years of existence, AHA’s Go Red for Women movement has managed to increase awareness about the risk of heart disease in women by 90 percent. It also saved over 670,000 lives.
“The American Heart Association and the American Medical Association share a common mission and commitment to reducing the number of Americans who have heart attacks and strokes each year, and we are proud of the physicians and health care organizations who have already stepped up to join us in this effort,” said AMA President Harris.
Since they appeared in the U.S. more than ten years ago, e-cigarettes have become increasingly popular. But little was known about their long-term effects, because research on that matter was scarce.
During that time, the FDA has been widely criticized because it kept postponing its own deadline to begin reviewing thousands of vaping products on the market, at one point until 2022. The deadline is now next May.
After months of public pressure, in March 2019 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has moved in to regulate and restrict the sale of e-cigarettes. The goal is to remove from the market fruity flavors, which are said to have caused the surge in use among teens.
The draft regulations come shortly after an Illinois state Senate committee approved a proposal to raise the minimum age for purchasing cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vapes, and chewing tobacco from 18 to 21. The legislators determined that the dramatic rise in e-cigarette use, mostly due to easily concealable products and fruit and candy flavors, necessitated the need to raise the limit.
Only a month later, beginning in April, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was investigating a possible link between electronic cigarette use and convulsions following 35 reported cases of seizures between 2010 and early this year.
Because of these various health concerns that have arisen, regulating the market is necessary, as banning all e-cigarettes and vaping products seems to be more difficult to achieve.