Albany, New York – Despite being presented with extensive scientific evidence and numerous testimonials about the health benefits for smokers who switch to electronic cigarettes, last week the New York Assembly passed A9529, which would ban sales of the far less hazardous tobacco alternatives.
A national consumer health group said the Assembly’s vote was heavily influenced by inaccurate claims made by the bill’s sponsor, Linda Rosenthal (D-WF), who claimed the products were marketed “as products that help people stop smoking,” are “sold to minors” and contain “toxic chemicals.” 1
“We are shocked that Assembly members didn’t read the information we sent them and ignored all the comments posted on the bill’s webpage,” said Michal Douglas, President of Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA), a national consumer group that encourages committed smokers to switch to reduced harm products.
“The evidence presented [to the Assembly] by Ms. Rosenthal was inaccurate and misleading. The FDA and several other labs have already analyzed electronic cigarettes. They know exactly what is in them and were unable to find anything indicating that they are a danger to the public. Electronic cigarettes are marketed and used as a less hazardous alternative to traditional cigarettes, not as a cure for nicotine dependency,” Douglas said.
In his opinion in “Smoking Everywhere vs. FDA,” U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon agreed, writing: “Because plaintiffs sell their electronic cigarette products for customary recreational use, those products (just like traditional cigarettes) are properly excluded from the meaning of drug or device under the FDCA.”
Judge Leon concluded that the FDA “cites no evidence that those electronic cigarettes have endangered anyone” nor presented “any evidence that electronic cigarettes are any more an immediate threat to public health and safety than traditional cigarettes, which are readily available to the public.” 2
“To hear [Rosenthal] describe them, you would think electronic cigarettes are worse than traditional cigarettes and that is not what the research is showing,” said CASAA medical director, Theresa Whitt, MD. “No toxic levels of any chemical have been found in any electronic cigarettes tested by the FDA nor in those tested by several independent labs. After two years on the U.S. market, there have been no reports of illness or harm due to electronic cigarette usage.”
“The FDA did find trace amounts of tobacco-specific nitrosamines [TSNAs],” Dr. Whitt said, “but those are commonly found, in comparable levels, in other nicotine products.”
Dr. Murray Laugesen, an experienced researcher on smoking policy and cigarettes, tested for the amount of nitrosamines in electronic cigarettes and found them to be approximately the same as found nicotine patches sold by U.S pharmaceutical companies. 3
“To put it in perspective,” Dr. Whitt explained, “a Marlboro cigarette contains over 1,300 times the amount of TSNAs as found in the FDA-approved nicotine patch and also electronic cigarettes. So claiming that electronic cigarettes need to be banned because they contain toxic chemicals and carcinogens is a gross exaggeration.”
CASAA does support the restriction of electronic cigarette sales to legal adults.
“While there is no evidence that electronic cigarettes are marketed to minors, CASAA fully supports legislation banning sales to minors,” said Douglas.
“The American Association of Public Health Physicians has stated that electronic cigarettes could save the lives of 4 million of the 8 million current adult American smokers who will otherwise die of a tobacco-related illness over the next 20 years,” Douglas said. “To ban legal adults from access to electronic cigarettes, while traditional cigarettes remain on the market for everyone, makes no sense.”
The legislation will next be considered by the New York Senate Health Committee.
Douglas said CASAA is encouraging New York constituents to call or write to their Senators and demand the Bill be amended to allow sales to adults.
“Before voting on S7234, the Senators must show due diligence and base their decision on fact and scientific evidence, not on propaganda,” he said.
1. YouTube Video, Video: New York Assembly, CASAA.org
2. Judge Richard Leon, Smoking Everywhere vs. FDA, CASAA.org
3. Dr. Murray Laugesen, Safety Report on the Ruyan® e-cigarette Cartridge and Inhaled Aerosol, Murray Laugesen, Health New Ze aland Ltd , CASAA.org