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New study finds that e-cig vapor affects cells similarly to tobacco smoke

ecig vapor affects cells

Electronic cigarettes have experienced a pretty sizable uptick in popularity over the past few years, partially due to the fact that they’re sometimes touted as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes. But a newly-published study –one of the first to examine the biological effects of inhaling vaporized e-liquid– suggests that this might not be the case.

The study, which was recently published in Nature and presented at the American Association of Cancer Research’s annual meeting this week, found that bronchial cells grown in a medium exposed to e-cig vapor showed “strikingly similar” gene mutations to those grown in a medium exposed to tobacco smoke.

Further research is needed to draw clear-cut conclusions, but these similarities may be an indicator that e-cig vapor could potentially increase a user’s risk of cancer, despite the fact that e-liquid is completely tobacco free and doesn’t require combustion to be consumed.

“They may be safer [than tobacco], but our preliminary studies suggest that they may not be benign,” said study author Avrum Spira, a genomics and lung cancer researcher at Boston University.

The next step is to conduct further experiments on the genes altered by the e-cig vapor to discern their cancer-causing potential. “These studies will determine the impact of e-cig exposure on lung carcinogenicity and provide needed scientific guidance to the FDA regarding the physiologic effects of e-cigs,” Spira added.

In spite of all the uncertainty surrounding their potential health effects, the FDA has taken its sweet time in regulating e-cigs, which have risen from relative obscurity to become a multi-billion dollar industry in just a few years time. Without any federal regulation, the e-cigarette market is basically the Wild West right now. There’s little if any quality control, and marketers can peddle e-cigs  however they want — be it to kids, or as a smoking cessation method.

Proposed federal rules on how to regulate e-cigs are expected to come down soon, but considering what research has shown thus far, in the meantime it’s probably a good idea to approach e-cigargette use with caution and not assume it’s completely safe.

(Images © Marc Bruxelle via Shutterstock

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Drew Prindle
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Drew Prindle is an award-winning writer, editor, and storyteller who currently serves as Senior Features Editor for Digital…
Everything you need to know about the FDA’s proposed e-cig regulations
fda e cigarettes cigarette regulations

The United States Food and Drug Administration officially published today it's 241-page long proposal for regulating the sale of e-cigarettes. The entire document is available on the Federal Register site for you to peruse as you please, but that's a lot of information to take in, so we've put together this quick overview to give you the gist of the proposal and the impact it might have on e-cigarette users.
What the proposed rules would change
First and foremost, the rules would extend the statutory definition of “tobacco product” to include categories of products that are not currently regulated under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and Tobacco Control Act. The new definition would be extended to include things like “dissolvables, gels, hookah tobacco, electronic cigarettes, cigars, and pipe tobacco."
Components and parts of tobacco products (but not their related accessories) would also fall under the scope of this proposed rule. This means that the sale of things like filters, rolling papers, tubes, pouches, flavorings, flavored hookah charcoals, and e-cigarette cartridges would be more tightly regulated by the federal government, rather than simply being left up to individual states to regulate.
The proposed rules also include provisions that allow the FDA to regulate future tobacco products that haven't even been invented yet. The agency envisions that there could be future tobacco products absorbed through the skin or mouth, for example.

Additionally, by extending the definition of what are deemed "tobacco products," the FDA's proposal would also extend federal minimum age and identification requirements to those products. In other words, if this proposed legislation is accepted, it would mean that in order to purchase any newly-deemed tobacco products -- including things like e-cigarettes, pipe tobacco, or rolling papers -- you would be required to provide identification that proves you are over the age of 18.
Under the new rules, companies would no longer be able to offer free samples, and e-cigarettes would be required to come with warning labels saying that they contain nicotine, which is addictive.
Perhaps the biggest proposed change would require producers of cigars and e-cigarettes to register with the FDA, provide the agency with a detailed accounting of their products’ ingredients, and disclose their manufacturing processes and scientific data. Producers would also be subject to FDA inspections.
What the proposed rules would not change
Despite the wide-reaching scope of the FDA's proposal, the rules proposed rules do not seek to regulate how e-cigarettes are marketed or advertised. That being said, however,  there are rules included that would prohibit companies from asserting that e-cigarettes are less harmful than real cigarettes -- unless they gain approval from the FDA to do so by submitting scientific information.
Additionally, despite voicing concerns over their potential appeal to children, the FDA's current proposal would not place any restrictions on the range of e-liquid flavors available to consumers. The agency is staying out of that issue for the time being, but FDA officials did say these new regulations are the first major step toward asserting the agency’s authority, and eventually being able to regulate flavors and marketing in the future. So you can hang on to your gummy bear- and churro-flavored liquids for now, but down the road they might be more difficult to get your hands on.
What you can do about it
Now that the proposal has been officially published, the public has 75 days (until July 9, 2014) to issue comments on the proposal. Interested persons may submit comments electronically at After this, the FDA will assess all comments and begin to draft a finalized version of the proposal, a process that will likely take multiple months to complete, and perhaps even as long as a year if affected organizations rally to contest the proposed rules.
[Images courtesy of Leszek Glasner/librakv/Shutterstock]

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FDA finally steps in on e-cigs, to announce ‘sweeping new rules’ Friday
fda to release sweeping new rules tomorrow regulate e cigarettes cigarette car

The US Food and Drug Administration is set to announce "sweeping new rules" that regulate the sale of electronic cigarettes, hookahs, pipes, and the various liquids and gels that go inside of them. The agency will reportedly unleash a "hundreds-of-pages-long" document on Friday that lays out the details of the proposed regulations.
According to a report from The New York Times, the FDA has been trying to reign in e-cigs ever since they first hit the market around seven or eight years ago, but the agency hasn't had much luck. After a series of early legal battles in which it tried to regulate them as drug delivery devices, federal courts ruled that e-cigs are not medical devices. This basically left the FDA with no authority to regulate them, unless they're specifically marketed as therapeutic tools.
These rulings gave e-cig companies a huge degree of freedom in how they marketed and sold their products, and for the past few years, the industry has basically been like the Wild West. Absent of any federal oversight, companies have been going hog wild, peddling their wares however they please, be it to kids or as a smoking-cessation method. But the FDA's proposed legislation might put an end to the industry's free reign.
We'll have to wait until Friday to see the FDA's full plan, but in the meantime, the agency has revealed a rough outline of what's in store. The rules will reportedly make it illegal to sell to people under the age of 18, and will require e-liquid makers to reveal exactly what's inside their products -- something that they're currently not required to do in most states.
In addition to e-cigarettes, the proposed rules will also cover pipe tobacco and cigars. Tobacco products have long slid under the FDA's regulatory radar, and have also enjoyed a sizable uptick in usage over the past few years. 
We'll know the full scope of the FDA's approach soon, but regardless of what the documents contain, this is merely the beginning of a long process. After the proposed rules are released, the public will have 75 days to "comment" on the proposal, at which point, the agency will begin finalizing the rules. According to the NYT, that could take months -- perhaps even an entire year, if affected companies combat the changes and decide to sue.
Check back here for more details.
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Chicago joins New York, bans indoor e-cigarette vaping
vaping banned on planes electronic cigarette

Noted by the Chicago Tribune earlier today, Chicago has become the next major U.S. city to ban the use of electronic cigarettes within indoor public buildings like restaurants, bars and offices. Similar to regular smokers, people that want to use e-cigarettes will not be allowed within 15 feet of a building entrance while smoking. According to the details of the ruling, Chicago natives will be allowed to use (it's not technically 'smoking') e-cigarettes within retail tobacco shops and smoking rooms specifically designated by a building as well as private residences or vehicles. 
The measure passed fairly handily among the city's aldermen at a vote of 45 to 4. In addition to the new restrictions on smoking e-cigarettes in public, Chicago retailers will also be required to move all e-cigarette products behind the counter in order to more effectively restrict sales of the product to children. However, the state of Illinois already restricts the the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under the age of eighteen. In addition, the city has increased the tax rate on packs of standard cigarettes by an additional 50 cents making Chicago one of the most expensive cities in the United States to purchase a pack of smokes, specifically averaging about $7.17 per pack. 
When asked about the new measures to restrict e-cigarettes, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said "Having worked with the FDA, having encouraged them to take steps to protect individuals and children, they are usually an agency that leads from behind. And when it comes to the city of Chicago, when it comes to the people of the city of Chicago, when it comes to the children of the city of Chicago, I do not believe we should wait."

One of the few opponents of the indoor ban on e-cigarettes, Alderman Brendan Reilly, is currently attempting to use an e-cigarette to quit smoking. Regarding the measure, Reilly said "You lose me when you want to treat a product that many people are using for cessation – using it as an alternative to quit – when you’re treating it just like the product they’re trying to get away from ... We’re talking about treating two different products like they’re one, like they’re combustible cigarettes."
While there are currently ongoing studies measuring any potential, long term health risks to smoking e-cigarettes, many consumers believe that the product is far less damaging than traditional cigarettes. Rather than breathing in harmful smoke, an e-cigarette user breathes in a water vapor solution that's often laced with nicotine and some type of flavoring. In addition, e-cigarettes are vastly less odoriferous than traditional cigarettes, thus more ideal for the office environment.
Prior to this ruling in Chicago, New York passed a similar measure in December 2013. The New York City Council banned the use of all e-cigarette products in public places around the city, despite similar resistance from members of the government. In addition to that measure, New York also became one of the strictest states when it comes to age laws regarding the purchase of cigarettes. Starting during May 2014, New York residents under the age of 21 will not be able to purchase cigarettes. 

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