State and federal governments have to grapple with the new e-cigarette market and the explosion of vape shops, which offer, in their words, an alternative to cigarette smoking.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has recently issued a statement calling for e-cigarettes to face the same regulations as other tobacco products, and regulators should listen. In fact, so should we all.

The AAP is not a trade organization, nor is it a private interest group. Its mission is simply stated: “(The AAP is) dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.” As a naturopathic doctor and father, so am I.

Many studies have raised profound questions about e-cigarettes as alternatives. In February, a study in Michigan surveyed 40,000 teenagers and found that by age 14, over 8 percent of kids had tried e-cigarettes, versus 4 percent who had smoked cigarettes.

A study out of the U.K. in late 2014 found that children who had tried e-cigarettes were seven times more likely to answer that they might start smoking tobacco cigarettes within two years than kids who hadn’t tried either smoking method.

And as for safety, a study of the e-cigarette power source, an electric voltage, produced up to 15 times more formaldehyde than a tobacco cigarette, resulting in substantially greater cancer risk compared to tobacco cigarettes. To view e-cigarettes as an alternative is, to me, absurd.

Let me attempt a comparison. Elevated use of hard alcohol is associated with esophageal cancer, in part because it causes topical irritation (this part is true).

So what if we create an intravenous delivery system for alcohol to allow the drink effect but reduce the incidence of esophageal cancer? It could be a little IV port with “single-shot” injectable alcohol solutions.

Even though I just made this up, it actually sounds possible … and absurd.

Richard Maurer, N.D.

Portland


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