2014 News Releases

Department of Behavioral & Community Health

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September 16, 2014        Print version


Board of Health Warns Against E-Cigarette Use

Contact:  Lobsang T. Lhungay, MD, President   
      (845) 452-1409      
or   Robert Irving Miller, RN, Esq., Member     
      (845) 447-8000                                                         

                                                                                       

Poughkeepsie……The Dutchess County Board of Health today expressed its concerns with the increased use of e-cigarettes.  Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes as they are more commonly called, are being promoted as a new way to smoke, without actually smoking. 

“What you may not know is that this hot topic of conversation is a potential health hazard.  The facts don’t lie. A recent Center for Disease Control Center (CDC) study found a dramatic increase in calls to U.S. poison control center calls related to electronic cigarettes. As of February 2014, calls to poison control about e-cigarette exposure were up to 215 per month across the country”, said Dr. Lobsang T. Lhungay, MD, President, Dutchess County Board of Health.

When e-cigarettes were introduced to the market they appeared to offer an alternative to traditional cigarette smoking. However, this report from the CDC regarding poisonings raises concerns about the liquid nicotine that is used in the e-cigarettes. More distressing is that half of the calls to poison centers involved young children under the age of 5.

An e-cigarette is a battery operated smoking device designed to deliver nicotine and flavor to the user. The device heats up a liquid, turning it to vapor, which is inhaled, or “vaped” by the user.

The liquid in e-cigarettes is comprised of nicotine, flavorings and other additives. The candy and fruit flavors are the draw for young children. Cartridges are not childproofed, making them easily accessible to young children. Poisonings can happen by ingestion, inhalation or absorption through the nose and eyes.

Traditional cigarette poisonings usually involve ingestion of cigarettes. Liquid nicotine changes that. With three possible ways of poisoning, liquid nicotine is deadly. The most common adverse health effects that were mentioned in e-cigarette calls to poison control centers were vomiting, nausea and eye irritation.

E-cigarettes are enticing to children. Marketing nicotine products is nothing new to the industry. It has been a constant battle to stop it, and here we have yet another marketing tactic, candy flavored nicotine. It can almost be compared to the candy cigarettes they used to sell. Make it appealing to children and you have them hooked.

Children are not the only ones affected by e-cigarette poisonings. In the calls to poison control, 42 percent of victims were age 20 and older. These statistics make e-cigarettes a concern for everyone.

The FDA currently does not regulate e-cigarettes, but has plans to do so. There is no ingredient listing on e-cigarette packaging. Due to the lack of regulation, the potential risks of the devices are unknown. The amount of nicotine also varies.  FDA testing showed that the amount can range from 26.8 to 43.2 micrograms of nicotine per 100 milliliter puff. However, there is not yet reliable data about how this compares to the intake of nicotine while smoking regular cigarettes.

“Unregulated nicotine levels also mean unregulated chemicals. There is no knowing what may be in the devices. For example, a 2009 FDA laboratory analysis of cartridges found that some of the liquid nicotine, for e-cigarettes, contained about 1 percent diethylene glycol, a toxic chemical found in antifreeze”, said Dr. Lhungay.

In addition to the fact that you may be inhaling toxic chemicals, there is no study to show that there are any health benefits associated with the smoking of e-cigarettes.

E-cigarettes are a concern for the general population. Not only are they potentially dangerous for the consumers, but they can cause extreme health risks for children. The risk of poisonings is high and no one wants to see a child suffer due to an unregulated nicotine product.

The Dutchess County Board of Health urges you not to use e-cigarettes, except possibly for smoking cessation purposes, and then only under a physician’s supervision.

 

 

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A. K. Vaidian, MD, MPH,Commissioner of Behavioral & Community Health A. K. Vaidian, MD, MPH
Commissioner of Behavioral & Community Health
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