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California Health Authorities Warn Users of E-Cigarettes, Call for Strict Regulations

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Health authorities in California have warned about the toxicity of electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, and are calling for strict regulations.

On Wednesday, Jan. 28, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a health advisory about e-cigarettes.

Dr. Ron Chapman, director of CDPH and state health officer, suggests that e-cigarettes contain harmful chemicals as well as nicotine, which is as addictive as the nicotine found in regular cigarettes.

"There is a lot of misinformation about e-cigarettes. That is why, as the state's health officer, I am advising Californians to avoid the use of e-cigarettes and keep them away from children of all ages," said Dr. Chapman.

The CDPH cited some e-cigarette studies that reveal its popularity has increased especially among teens and young adults in recent years. The state health department reports that e-cigarette usage in the age group of 18 to 29 years old jumped to 7.6 percent in 2013 in comparison to 2.3 percent as reported in 2012.

The department also pointed out that there has been an increase in emergency calls to the state's poison control centers due to poisoning from e-cigarettes and e-liquids containing nicotine. The number of such calls increased to 243 in 2014 in comparison to just 19 cases reported in 2012. Over 60 percent of cases related to e-cigarettes involved kids 5 years old and below.

E-liquid containers and cartridges do not have child safety caps so they may leak. This may lead to accidental poisoning.

The state has also released a report that refers to e-cigarettes as a health threat to the community. The report recommends stricter laws to regulate e-cigarettes in the state of California. Sale of e-cigarettes to minors is currently banned.

"Existing laws that currently protect minors and the general public from traditional tobacco products should be extended to cover e-cigarettes," the report reads.

The report also calls for immediate action that will protect workers and children from toxicity associated with accidental handling or exposure to toxic material emitted by the e-cigarettes and handing of the e-liquid bottles.

E-cigarettes are relatively new, and long-term effects of e-cigarettes are not known. The risks and benefits associated with e-cigarettes are highly debated.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is also exploring possible product standards. However, the head of the agency's tobacco division also suggests e-cigarettes do not fill the lungs with tar and smoke in comparison to normal cigarettes.

Photo:

Jonny Williams | Flickr

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