A Harvard professor has called on the Government to show leadership in the EU by regulating electronic cigarettes as medical devices.

Prof Gregory Connolly, director of the Center for Global Tobacco Control at Harvard, argues that if unregulated, e cigarettes could be the panacea for the tobacco industry s woes by discouraging quitting and encouraging children to take up smoking.

However, if regulated, e cigarettes could offer a miracle for getting people to quit smoking.

Prof Connolly was in Dublin yesterday to mark the 10th anniversary of the introduction of the workplace smoking ban at an event in the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI).

The reason why I came here is to tell this nation you need to go in and show leadership within the EU. You ve got to pass a law here regulating e cigarettes as medical devices, he told The Irish Times .

Because of the smoking ban, the State had the moral virtue and the leadership to do this, he said.

Dropped the ball
The EU dropped the ball on e cigarettes, he said. Last year MEPs rejected a proposal to classify e cigarettes as medicinal products.

Trends in Ireland show that children born today will be in a smoke free State by the time they turn 18 in 2032, he said.

However, he fears this progress could be threatened if e cigarettes discourage people from quitting by promoting dual use of e cigarettes and cigarettes. If this is the case we re going to see the progress in Ireland stalled and possibly gone, he added.

E cigarettes can help to retain addiction through dual use and the problem is not about how many cigarettes people smoke, but for how many years. If I smoke 20 cigarettes a day and quit at 35, I m going to be as healthy as a horse and may have no disease. If I cut down to 10 cigarettes with the use of e cigarettes and continue smoking, it s no different than if I was smoking 20, he said. If unregulated, e cigarettes could recruit a new generation of cigarette smokers for the industry. A recent Utah study showed that 9 per cent of children in the 12th grade (about 17 years old) were smoking e cigarettes and 3 per cent cigarettes and they were transferring over to cigarettes, he said.

Independent research
Prof Connolly has concerns about allowing the tobacco industry to design and market e cigarettes. He wants to see independent research done on e cigarettes and the industry to do human trials before they start doing experiments on whole countries , he said.

There also needs to be more approval of the chemicals used in the products and more knowledge about what they do to people s brains, he added.

Yesterday Minister for Health James Reilly said he would like to see e cigarettes being brought in on the basis of purely medicinal advice .

The Government would certainly ban them for under 18s. However, he said they had a role in helping people to quit smoking.

Dr Reilly also said that legislation to ban smoking in cars where children are present will be ready in the next number of weeks .

Editorial: the buzz about e-cigarettes – chicago tribune

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There’s debate, but scant evidence, that e cigarettes pose a health risk. The main benefit of e cigarettes is to give smokers an alternative, a way to kick the tobacco habit. Users can vary the levels of nicotine and gradually wean themselves off their addiction.

A 2009 Food and Drug Administration study tested two popular brands of e cigarettes and did find carcinogens and other toxic chemicals in more than half of the samples. One sample had traces of diethylene glycol, an ingredient in antifreeze.

Another study conducted by the Drexel University School of Public Health and funded by the Consumer Advocates for Smoke Free Alternatives Association, a group that advocates for e cigarettes and smokeless tobacco found e cigarettes pose no health threat for users or bystanders under generally accepted exposure limits. No study has provided a definitive answer, but all point to e cigs as safer than regular cigs.

The FDA is still trying to figure out how to classify e cigarettes. In September, attorneys general from about 40 states signed on to a letter urging the FDA to regulate e cigarettes as a tobacco product. That would allow the agency to restrict advertising, ingredients and sales to minors. The FDA has drafted a proposed rule and sent it to the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for review, but has not publicly released it.

Health effects aside, a major concern about e cigarettes is their appeal to young people. Smoking an e cigarette looks no different than smoking a regular cigarette. That “cool” factor is still there. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of middle school and high school students who use e cigarettes doubled between 2011 and 2012. An Illinois law banning the sale of e cigarettes to minors took effect on Jan. 1.

Chicago’s proposed ordinance, introduced by Ald. Will Burns, 4th, and Ald. Edward Burke, 14th, is promoted as an initiative to protect children, but it would have a much wider impact. E cigarettes would be banned from all smoke free environments, and stores would be required to sell them behind the counter. That ordinance has been stalled, but an ordinance that would prohibit the sale of menthol flavored tobacco products within 500 feet of Chicago schools has been approved by two council committees.

The new state law and the city ordinance that won favor in committee focus on restricting this nicotine delivery device to kids. And that, for now, seems like the right approach. Illinois and other states had good cause to ban tobacco smoking in public places second hand smoke poses a known health risk. E cigs may be a nuisance to people who see others using them, but we’re not talking about second hand smoke.

The absence of a broad government ban doesn’t mean that people puffing e cigs will start to show up everywhere. Many businesses and agencies have set their own bans. You can’t smoke e cigarettes at the United Center, on CTA buses or trains or in Starbucks stores. Nearly all major U.S. airlines prohibit e cigarettes on their planes. It’s our sense that most e cig users think twice about where they puff away because of public repulsion toward smoking.