E-cigs ought to be regulated

How can e-cigarettes be regarded as safe when they are so untested?

I want to applaud The Baltimore Sun for its recent editorial related to e-cigarettes ("Teens and e-cigarettes," Aug. 22). Allowing the use of e-cigarettes in public places undermines the effectiveness of our state's smoke-free law by exposing non-users to nicotine and other unknown and potentially harmful chemicals. Moreover, use of these products by current smokers may maintain nicotine addiction and discourage quitting.

Smoke-free laws have helped make smoking a socially unacceptable behavior, a dynamic that has played a significant role in reducing death and disease from tobacco use among all segments of the population. Allowing e-cigarette use in a place where smoking is prohibited threatens to undo that progress, causing harm not only to smokers but to those around them.

There are serious questions about the safety of inhaling e-cigarette aerosol. Because there is no oversight on the industry, it's impossible to know what chemicals are emitted and the related short and long-term risks of e-cigarettes. Some studies have found the aerosol to contain heavy metals, volatile organic compounds and tobacco-specific nitrosamines, among other ingredients. FDA tests found nicotine in some e-cigarettes that claimed to contain no nicotine at all.

We would never allow a company to start selling food that hasn't been adequately tested. We would be appalled if a drug company was allowed to put a drug on the market that hasn't gone through proper clinical trials. Why then are some so willing to allow e-cigarettes to be used when there is no scientific evidence that they are safe for the user or for those subjected to the device's potentially toxic emissions?

Bonita Pennino, White Marsh

The writer is Maryland and D.C. government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

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