E-Cigarettes are as Dangerous as Regular Cigarettes: CDC Director

E-cigarettes are as dangerous as regular cigarettes, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Tom Frieden told The Los Angeles Times. He is concerned the devices will hook a new generation of young people on smoking.

“I’ve treated so many adults who are desperate — desperate — to get off tobacco. They all started as kids,” Frieden said. “I see the industry getting another generation of our kids addicted. To me, as a physician, when 1.78 million of our high school kids have tried an e-cigarette and a lot of them are using them regularly … that’s like watching someone harm hundreds of thousands of children.”

Frieden says e-cigarettes concern him for a number of reasons. He thinks they can lead smokers who would have quit to continue smoking, and can get ex-smokers who have been off nicotine to go back on nicotine, and then back to cigarettes. He is also worried that e-cigarettes will re-glamorize smoking.

He said people who use the devices can expose children, teens and pregnant women to nicotine through secondhand smoke. They also can be used to smoke marijuana or other drugs, he added.

Frieden said, “Stick to stick, they’re almost certainly less toxic than cigarettes.” He acknowledged many people have quit smoking tobacco cigarettes with the help of e-cigarettes. Studies about e-cigarettes’ role in smoking cessation are needed, he said.

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration announced new rules that would allow the agency to regulate e-cigarettes. The proposed rules would ban the sale of e-cigarettes, cigars and pipe tobacco to anyone under age 18. The proposed rules do not ban flavors in e-cigarettes and cigars. Public health advocates say these flavors entice children to try the products. The rules also do not ban marketing of e-cigarettes, which public health advocates had called for. The FDA said further regulations will be needed to address flavoring and marketing.

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    Elaine Keller

    May 1, 2014 at 5:03 PM

    Dr. Frieden fails to reveal that nearly all of the youth who take up regular use of an e-cigarette are smokers. If, as he admits, they are less toxic than cigarettes, why would he prefer that they stick with smoking?

    He reminds me a bit of my mother, who didn’t want me to take swimming lessons because she was concerned that I would drown. She had it exactly backwards, and so does Dr. Frieden. E-cigarettes are saving the lives of people who had almost given up all hope of ever being able to quit. If smoking rates had gone up after e-cigarettes became popular, his “they prevent smokers from quitting” theory might hold some water. But smoking rates are declining across all age groups.

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    Fr. Jack Kearney

    April 30, 2014 at 5:44 PM

    As a smoking cessation counselor, I share the same feelings as Dr. Frieden about smoking. As as scientist who looks at all the research I am amazed that he is unaware of all the good that ecigs do. Why can’t people accept that ecigs are helping millions of people quit smoking with little or no harm coming from them?

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    April 30, 2014 at 2:55 PM

    …It’s sad, something that is an alternative to smoking is getting such harsh reaction from someone who should be praising it for saving lives. In my high school, few smokers got E-cigs, mainly because smoking to them was still easier to get by bumming around town or getting spare change together.
    Flavors aren’t an issue either, considering these actually aren’t being marketed for kids. Alcohol has tons of flavor, if you remove flavors from my ecig, you should start drink “Alcohol-only flavor” Alcohol drinks.
    As far as being bad for you, I’ve lowered my blood pressure, regained since of smell, and taste, I no longer have issue breathing.

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    April 30, 2014 at 1:40 PM

    While reading this I see a glaring contradiction: You state that e-Cigarettes are just as dangerous, and then go on to say they are less toxic. Which is it? You do not clarify how they are just as dangerous – just to mention that they are just as addictive. Well of course they are just as addictive, they contain nicotine. That doesn’t mean they contain the carcinogens that come from when something is burned. That doesn’t mean that chemicals found in cigarettes (found in rocket fuel and rat poison), are also found in e-cigarettes. Hmmm… carcinogens or Propylene glycol? both have nicotine…

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