Electronic Cigarettes A Position Statement of the Forum of International Respiratory Societies

SUMMARY: According to the American Cancer Society, tobacco use is responsible for nearly 1 in 5 deaths in the United States and accounts for at least 30% of all cancer deaths. Smokeless tobacco products are a major source of cancer causing nitrosamines and increase the risk of developing cancer of the oropharynx, esophagus, and pancreas. Cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, many of which are toxic and some linked to cancer. E-cigarettes were first developed in China and were introduced to the U.S. market in 2007. When a smoker inhales through the mouth piece of an E-cigarette, the air flow triggers a sensor that switches on a small lithium battery powered heater, which in turn vaporizes liquid nicotine along with PolyEthylene Glycol (PEG) present in a small cartridge. The PEG vapor looks like smoke. The potent liquid form of nicotine extracted from tobacco is tinctured with fragrant flavors such as chocolate, cherry and bubble gum, coloring substances, as well other chemicals and these e-liquids are powerful neurotoxins. With the rapid growth of the E-cigarette industry and the evidence of potential dangers and risk to public health, particularly children, experts from the world's leading lung organizations were compelled to release a position statement on electronic cigarettes, specifically focusing on their potential adverse effects on human health and calling on government organizations to ban or restrict the use of E-cigarettes, until their impact on health is better understood. With epidemiological data demonstrating that nicotine use is a gateway to the use of cocaine and marijuana and subsequent lifelong addiction, the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS), an organization composed of the world's leading international respiratory societies including American Thoracic Society (ATS) and the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), made the following recommendations. The position statement of the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) on electronic nicotine delivery devices includes the following:

• The safety of electronic cigarettes has not been adequately demonstrated.

• The addictive power of nicotine and its untoward effects should not be underestimated.

• The potential benefits of electronic nicotine delivery devices, including harm reduction and as an aid to smoking cessation, have not been well studied.

• Potential benefits to an individual smoker should be weighed against harm to the population of increased social acceptability of smoking and use of nicotine.

• Health and safety claims regarding electronic nicotine delivery devices should be subject to evidentiary review.

• Adverse health effects for third parties exposed to the emissions of electronic cigarettes cannot be excluded.

• Electronic nicotine delivery devices should be restricted or banned, at least until more information about their safety is available.

• If electronic nicotine delivery devices are permitted, they should be regulated as medicines and subject to the same evidentiary review of other medicines.

• If electronic nicotine delivery devices are not regulated as medicines, they should be regulated as tobacco products.

• Research, supported by sources other than the tobacco or electronic cigarette industry, should be carried out to determine the impact of electronic nicotine delivery devices on health in a wide variety of settings.

• The use and population effects of electronic nicotine delivery devices should be monitored.

• All information derived from this research should be conveyed to the public in a clear manner.

Schraufnagel DE, Blasi F, Drummond MB, et al. on behalf of the Forum of International Respiratory Societies. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. First published online 09 Jul 2014 as DOI: 10.1164/rccm.201407-1198PP