California health officials are calling on the public to stop getting deceived by commercial ads claiming that e-cigarettes help active smokers quit smoking, because this is not entirely true; rather e-cigs could be dangerous to teens and everyone that takes to it with careless abandon.
According to Ron Chapman, the director of the California Department of Public Health, “We see e-cigarettes as a growing threat that needs to be addressed,” Chapman said. “From all the evidence we have so far, e-cigarettes are not as harmful as conventional cigarettes, but e-cigarettes are not harmless. They are not safe.”
Called vapes, vape pens, vaporizers, and many other fanciful names, e-cigs – according to the California Department of Public Health, contains at least 10 chemicals listed as carcinogenic or causing cancer and birth defects. E-cigarettes according to California health officials contain benzene, formaldehyde, nicotine, lead, and nickel among others.
The advisory issued by the state health department reveals that the manufacturers of e-cigs are only trying to make a new generation of smokers addicted to nicotine contained in the device. The advisory reads in part: “The fact that e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive, is not typically included in e-cigarette advertising.”
However, a few persons have risen to counter the claims made by California health officials, among them Gregory Conley of New Jersey, president of the industry advocacy group, American Vaping Association. “It inappropriately paints what is a complex public health topic as a black-and-white issue,” he said, even saying the device helped him to quit smoking.
And Rachel Chong, 27, who was seen puffing on an electronic cigarette at the Vapor Spot in Sacramento, said “I started doing a little research when (vaporizers) started popping up because I knew I couldn’t quit cigarettes cold turkey,” she said puffing a menthol pear custard flavor. “I wouldn’t say I think vaporizers are more healthy, I would say they’re a healthier alternative.”
And sitting not far away from Chong is Jeremy Edwards, 25, who said he’s been off cigarettes for about a year and likes vaping the “super fly lemon pie” flavor.
“From cigarettes to vapes, I feel better. Going to the gym and working out is easier,” Edwards said. “If I vape too much, I get a little dizzy; I guess that’s nicotine poisoning. But you get to know your levels.”
However, the report released by the California health department reports an increase in the number of teens and youths taking e-cigs, saying the danger inherent in the practice should be considered also in the light of what it can do to children.
“Adults have also mistakenly used e-liquid in harmful ways, such as eye drops, and have been harmed by exploding cartridges and burning batteries,” the report says. It can be imagined that if this happened to adults, then kids are at greater risks of harming themselves with electronic cigarettes.
“Our job in public health is to provide the policymakers with the best analysis of the science and research and that’s what we’re doing,” Chapman said. “We’re sharing with the public, including the state policymakers, where the science stands. And then it’s in the hands of the policymakers to make those decisions.
“Without action, it is likely that California’s more than two decades of progress to prevent and reduce traditional tobacco use will erode as e-cigarettes re-normalize smoking behavior.”