AAPHP Recommends Electronic Cigarettes

New support for electronic cigarettes comes from a seemingly unlikely source. The American Association of Public Health Physicians (AAPHP) have issued two petitions to the FDA on behalf of the Tobacco Control Task urging the governmental organization to rethink their classification of electronic cigarettes as tobacco products due to a few new findings.

Electronic Cigarettes

The FDA classifies electronic cigarettes as tobacco products because of their nicotine content. The rationale is that because nicotine is derived from tobacco cigarettes, electronic cigarettes should be classified similarly despite having no trace of tobacco in them. While several studies have been published promoting electronic cigarettes as a healthier alternative to traditional tobacco new studies have come to light promoting the efficacy of these devices in reducing or even eliminating the habit of smoking. Reclassifying electronic cigarettes, the AAPHP asserts, could lead to a new tobacco reduction initiatives that could serve to support and bolster current control policies. Furthermore, with new regulation, tobacco harm reduction (THR) could impact marketing of smoking products by being targeted solely to adults reducing the number of teens using nicotine products.

Other Cessation Products Less Effective For Smokers

Tobacco harm reduction is already a well-established principle in tobacco control which entails substituting smoking with low-risk nicotine products, namely nicotine replacement therapy (NTR) products, over a long period of time (over 12 weeks). However, long term uses of NTR products have not yet been approved by the FDA.  Currently available NRT products tend to be unattractive, unsatisfying to smokers, unduly expensive and as specified by FDA regulation, only for temporary use (10-12 weeks). In contrast, to effectively reach current smokers, lower risk tobacco related products such as electronic cigarettes, are attractive to smokers, competitively priced, available where cigarettes are sold and may be used long term.

THR is already a well-established policy initiative that promotes smoking substitutes through nicotine replacement therapy (NTR) products over a certain period of time. The FDA has yet to approve NTR products that are long term use (over 12 weeks). Short term products such as gums and patches can be expensive and unsatisfying for users and may not be as effective as the FDA claims. The AAPHP asserts that promoting electronic cigarettes as NTR products could provide low risk alternatives to those trying to quit. This option would be attractive to smokers as it mimics the sensation of smoking traditional tobacco without harmful exposure to deadly chemical additives and can be used in the long term.

Despite the FDA’s April 25, 2011 ruling to classify electronic cigarettes as tobacco products under the 2009 Tobacco Act, the AAPHP continues to throw their support in reclassification. “A cigarette smoker can reduce his or her risk of future tobacco-related death by 98% or better by switching to a low risk smokeless tobacco product. He or she could cut that risk by 99.9% or better by switching to a nicotine-only delivery product like one of the pharmaceutical products or E-cigarettes.”

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