First long-term study of the health impact of vaping points the way to regulation of all tobacco products

Statement by Action on Smoking and Health

On December 16, 2019, the first long-term study of e-cigarette use was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The results show conclusively that the use of e-cigarettes dramatically increases the risk of lung disease. It also found that dual use of combustible and electronic cigarettes increases risk beyond using either product alone. This information should be used immediately to inform tobacco regulation at the national, state and local levels. Unfettered access to these products is a public health threat.

The study did not conclude whether vaping is as dangerous as smoking combustible cigarettes, nor did it set out to do so. This question is largely irrelevant. Traditional cigarettes are the most dangerous consumer product in history, killing nearly half a million Americans each year. E-cigarettes need not be as dangerous to warrant strict regulations or sales bans.

A number of cities and states have already taken decisive action to curtail youth e-cigarette use by banning flavors or even overall sales. ASH believes that a flavor ban is a reasonable approach, provided it covers all flavors, including mint and menthol. Other studies have shown that the vast majority of youth e-cigarette users use flavored products. ASH also urges the Food and Drug Administration to re-open its efforts to reduce nicotine in all tobacco products to non-addictive levels.

As legislators consider how to address the e-cigarette epidemic, they should take a broad view of tobacco product sales. Addressing only e-cigarette sales can lead to inconsistent public health policy, for example: eliminating menthol e-cigarettes but leaving menthol cigarettes – which have killed millions – on the shelf.

The most comprehensive and defensible approach is to phase out the sale of all commercial tobacco products, as Beverly Hills, CA has done. Products that are highly addictive and deadly when used as intended have no place on the market. Society has banned the sale of other products for health and safety reasons – for example, asbestos, lead paint and automatic weapons. We have been blind when it comes to tobacco, and it is time to open our eyes.

Contact: Megan Arendt
arendtm@ash.org
(202) 659-4310