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TheStreet Open House

E-Cigarettes: Rush To Regulate Could Destroy Effective Alternative

WASHINGTON, Sept. 24, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Last week, several organizations sent a joint letter to the President, asking him to order the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to promptly assert authority over all tobacco products not currently under its jurisdiction. The organizations imply that the delay is resulting in negative health consequences. However, they never mention any specific consequences, and for a good reason: They are proposing a "solution" where no problem exists. Instead, enacting regulations without sufficient scientific evidence has the potential to do a great deal of harm to public health.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20121001/DC84709LOGO)

The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA) is writing the president today to urge him to advise the FDA to take the time needed to develop science-based regulations that will serve the interests of public health. CASAA is a non-profit organization that works to ensure the availability of low-risk alternatives to smoking and to provide smokers and non-smokers alike with truthful information about such alternatives.

In 2009, four of the organizations that signed last week's letter--the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, and the American Heart Association--jointly pressured the FDA to remove electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) from the market. The FDA tried to do so until a Federal Court Judge ruled that e-cigarettes cannot be regulated (and thus banned) as a drug unless therapeutic claims are made.

"Had these organizations succeeded in their efforts to prevent the sale of e-cigarettes in the U.S.," stated CASAA president, Elaine Keller, "hundreds of thousands of former smokers would still be lighting up. Almost all e-cigarette consumers are former smokers who tried to quit by using some or all of the products and methods these organizations tout and kept relapsing. The option to switch to a low-risk product that is a satisfying substitute for smoking has made a smoke-free life possible for those who had almost given up all hope of ever being able to quit smoking."

In their letter to the president, the organizations cite the recent report on youth use of e-cigarettes by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as proof that students in grades 6 through 12 are taking up use of e-cigarettes at an alarming rate. This misrepresents the findings.

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