Heart Association Carefully Concedes e-Cigarettes Role

In a week of much news about e-cigarettes, the American Heart Association (AHA) has carefully conceded that e-cigarettes might have a role as a last option for quitting smoking. Specifically, the AHA statement says:

If a patient has failed initial treatment, has been intolerant of or refuses to use conventional smoking cessation medication, and wishes to use e-cigarettes to aid quitting, it is reasonable to support the attempt.

This guarded concession comes n the context of the first ever AHA scientific statement on e-cigarettes, published this week in Circulation. And the rest of the statement makes it clear that AHA has very mixed feelings about e-cigarettes. The AHA calls for eight restrictions upon sales use and marketing of such products:

  1. Prohibit the use of e-cigarettes anywhere that use of conventional cigarettes is prohibited.
  2. Prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone who cannot legally buy cigarettes or in any venues where sale of conventional cigarettes is prohibited.
  3. Subject e-cigarette marketing to the same level of restrictions that apply to conventional cigarettes (including no television or radio advertising).
  4. Prohibit cobranding e-cigarettes with cigarettes or marketing in a way that promotes dual use.
  5. Prohibit the use of characterizing flavors in e-cigarettes, particularly candy and alcohol flavors.
  6. Prohibit claims that e-cigarettes are effective smoking cessation aids until e-cigarette manufacturers and companies provide sufficient evidence that e-cigarettes can be used effectively for smoking cessation.
  7. Prohibit any health claims for e-cigarette products until and unless approved by regulatory agencies to scientific and regulatory standards.
  8. Establish standards for regulating product ingredients and functioning.

The subject of e-cigarettes is stirring strong feelings, both for and against them. It helps to have a thorough review of the objective science, such as this new AHA scientific review provides.

“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.” — Nelson Mandela

Click here to read the scientific review and position statement in Circulation, here to read more in Bloomberg Businessweek, here to read more from the LA Times, and here to read more in Nature.

The End of an e-Cigarette, photograph © Li Tsin Soon / flickr

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