e-Cigarettes – Safety Not Yet Proven
The safety of e-cigarettes (electronic cigarettes) has not yet been scientifically shown.
They contain nicotine, so they’re addictive and may encourage novice users to later switch to combustible cigarettes. They’re particularly harmful and addictive to people under the age of 25, as their brains are still developing and nicotine can negatively affect development.
Scientific testing has highlighted that e-cigarettes vary widely in the amount of nicotine and other chemicals they deliver, and this is not communicated to buyers.
e-Cigarettes must be included when considering health risk of passive smoking (second hand smoke), because the use of these products leads to the emission of fine / ultrafine inhalable liquid particles, nicotine and cancer-causing substances into the air.
Although e-cigarettes have been marketed as aids to help quit smoking, the evidence that they help quit smoking is unsupported. In fact they may encourage more regular use of nicotine.
They are also more expensive than cigarettes, and smokers may return to cigarettes to save money.
CANSA is currently funding a Masters student’s research project with young adults at the University of Cape Town, to explore knowledge, perceptions, attitudes and behaviour regarding e-cigarettes. Results support the need for raising greater awareness around e-cigarettes, as well as the need for adequate regulation of these products.
CANSA rather recommends to quit smoking by proven treatments.
Parent Tip Sheet: Talk to Your Teen About eCigarettes – Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)
The Medicines Control Council (MCC) confirmed that:
- e-Cigarettes are subject to medical scheduling
- nicotine has been classified as a Schedule 3 substance
- e-Cigarettes may only be sold at pharmacies upon prescription
March 2016: CANSA addressed the illegal sale of electronic cigarettes with the Minister of Health and the Ministerial Advisory Committee for Cancer Control. See excerpt letter below:
The Illegal Sale and Advertising of Electronic Cigarettes
The South African Pharmacy Council decided in 2009 that it will not endorse electronic cigarettes and referred the matter to the Medicines Control Council (MCC) to establish whether electronic cigarettes falls under medicine control. The MCC consequently classified electronic cigarettes as a Schedule 3 substance and can only be sold in pharmacies on prescription.
In spite of the MCC classification, electronic cigarettes are being sold in shopping malls and kiosks across the country.
Manufacturers claim that electronic cigarettes are a safe alternative to conventional cigarettes.
However, these products have not been submitted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or any other similar scientific body for evaluation or approval, so the public don’t know the levels of nicotine or the amounts or types of chemicals they contain.
Furthermore, when the FDA analysed samples of two popular brands of electronic cigarettes, they found traces of toxic chemicals, including known carcinogens (cancer causing chemicals). This prompted the FDA to issue a warning about the potential health risks associated with electronic cigarettes.
Recommendations by the American Heart Association (AHA) cardiologists’ group urged that e-cigarettes be subject to the same laws that apply to tobacco products, and they recommended that governments ban the marketing and sale of e-cigarettes to young people.
The AHA also called for thorough and continuous research on e-cigarette use, marketing and long-term health effects.
A recent research duo from the University of California, San Francisco reviewed the findings of 38 studies conducted across the globe into e-cigarette use, and concluded that smokers who use the devices were 28 percent less likely to quit smoking tobacco.
* vaping; vape; vaporizer