E-cigarettes have lit up more controversy. Mitchell Zeller, J.D., director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products, said there are two key questions regarding e-cigarettes and behavior: “Who is using e-cigarettes?” and “How are the e-cigarettes being used?”
Zeller spoke out at the yearly meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. He voiced his concerns over his questions regarding e-cigarettes: “The only way to get answers to that is to fund the research to do it. We’ve been funding research on e-cigarettes for a while and will continue to do that. As a regulatory maker, we’ll then make regulatory policy decisions based on what the science tells us.”
The FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) does not presently regulate e-cigarettes. However, Zeller reported, that the FDA will release a proposed regulation which will expand its product jurisdictions beyond that of cigarettes, smokeless and roll -your-own tobacco. He stated: “We’re very close to being able to announce (that) proposed rule.”
Zeller also commented that if the group of today’s smokers who cannot or will not quit would at least use e-cigarettes in place of regular cigarettes then “there’s a chance there could be a positive impact on public health. But the standard that Congress has given the FDA to implement and enforce – when that day comes that we do regulate e cigarettes – it’s going to be about the net population (impact), not just the subset of smokers unable or unwilling to quit.”
Zeller posed this question to his audience: “What if it turns out that the use pattern is not complete substitution but situational substitution, where an otherwise health-concerned, interested-in-quitting smoker is using e-cigarettes as a bridge to get from their last cigarette to their next cigarette?”
He concluded: “That would have a net negative impact on public health. It’s going to be the FDA’s job to figure out what the net of all of that is, but right now all of us in government and research have far more questions than answers when it comes to e- cigarettes.”
At present one thing is certain. With sales of e-cigarettes growing to over 20 million dollars last year concerned clinicians, the World Health Organization, Congress and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration all still have a few questions and concerns regarding the numerous potential health risks and effects of e-cigarettes.
(Image courtesy of TheAustralian )