Seeking to break addiction to cigarettes, some smokers have turned toward an unproven product in electronic cigarettes.
Jason Cranor, 28, of Paducah said he turned to e-cigarettes to quit smoking traditional cigarettes. He enjoyed his product indoors at The Star restaurant.
Paducah City Manager Jeff Pederson said as the current smoking prohibition stands, e-cigarettes are not considered tobacco products and may be smoked indoors at public businesses.
“Honestly, it gives you what you want physically,” Cranor said. “But mentally, it’s just not there. I still wanted real cigarettes. I did good with it for a couple of weeks, but ended up doing what a lot of smokers do, and went back to real cigarettes.”
Dr. Shawn Jones, an otolaryngologist at Purchase ENT, said he considers e-cigarettes, with a battery, nicotine canister and tube, a drug delivery system.
“The problems I see with them are two fold,” Jones said. “FDA studies have tested e-cigarettes from different manufacturers. Results show a tremendous variation in the amount of nicotine delivered per puff.”
Jones also warned that the e-cigarettes contain unregulated tobacco byproducts. Containing nicotine, the e-cigarettes remain habit forming. He said many of the products contain flavors, and appeal to children. With nicotine and flavors, he worries these products could lead younger users to other tobacco products.
Jeff Ventura, spokesman for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said recent court cases prevent the FDA from classifying and regulating e-cigarettes as drug delivery products and must be listed as tobacco products. As e-cigarettes are relatively new, they are not regulated under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009.
Ventura cited a FDA statement called “FDA and public health experts warn about electronic cigarettes” available at fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm173222.htm. According to the report, laboratory analysis of electronic cigarette samples found some contain carcinogens and toxic chemicals such as diethylene glycol, an ingredient of antifreeze.
Jones said without actual combustion, e-cigarettes seem to have less risk of second-hand smoke than cigarettes. Most of what comes off the tip and is exhaled is water vapor. For those quitting smoking, he suggested products like nicotine patches or gum with a metered amount of the drug in each dose.
“I can’t really say e-cigarettes are unsafe, but there are a lot of variations from product to product,” Jones said. “I can’t say that they are safe, either. They are probably safer than cigarettes, but I’m just guessing because I don’t know what a particular product has in it.”
Contact Alan Reed, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8658.