A new Congressional report raises many of the same concerns about electronic cigarettes as those raised about regular cigarettes decades ago. The report from the offices of Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tom Harkin (D-IA), and Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) accuses e-cig makers of using the same tricks as old-school tobacco companies, such as marketing flavors like grape, cherry, or chocolate and using social media and ads at youth-sponsored events to target teens. The report calls for stricter government regulation of e-cigs, noting they currently have no age restrictions or uniform warning labels.
Dr. Steven Kelder with UT Health Science Center in Houston says since e-cigs still contain addictive nicotine, they should be regulated for those who are underage. "Nicotine is a drug, so providing easy access and advertising its use to youth is probably a problem," he tells KTRH. Beyond the marketing aspect, Dr. Kelder notes there are still many unanswered questions about the safety of e-cigarettes, or whether they are even the best way to quit regular smoking. "I have not seen the evidence that says the e-cigarettes are as good as or better than the nicotine gum or the patch, so personally I would wait a little bit and use those other products first."
Dr. Joseph DiFranza with the UMass Medical School is also skeptical of the health claims surrounding e-cigs. "Most of (the e-cigs) are made in China, and we are concerned there may some contaminants because quality control is poor, and they haven't been tested for health effects," he tells KTRH. Dr. DiFranza adds that just because e-cigarettes don't contain tobacco doesn't mean they should be left completely unregulated as they are now. "They're just as addictive as cigarettes," he says. "And they shouldn't be putting candy flavoring in them, they shouldn't be advertising them to kids, and they shouldn't be making unfounded health claims."