Tuesday, January 19, 2010

CASAA Applauds Electronic Cigarette Ruling

by Krisitn Noll-Marsh

The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA) applauded the recent ruling of U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon in the case of Smoking Everywhere v. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The group advocates providing consumers with affordable and effective alternatives to tobacco smoking, including electronic cigarettes.

Leon granted the injunction sought by the plaintiffs, Smoking Everywhere and NJOY (d.b.a. Soterra), to release shipments of electronic cigarettes that had been seized by FDA as "unapproved drug-delivery devices." The injunction prohibits FDA from seizing future shipments as well. (1)

"Judge Leon's decision that reduced risk tobacco products, such as electronic cigarettes, are not drug delivery devices and should not be placed under FDA jurisdiction as such is a step in the right direction," stated CASAA president Michal Douglas. "The process of approving new drugs is prohibitive and would leave millions of electronic cigarette users at risk."

E-cigarettes can be used as an alternative to smoking tobacco cigarettes. The devices use a battery and atomizer to vaporize a small amount of liquid in a cartridge that contains propylene glycol--the chemical used to create artificial fog in theatre productions and dance clubs—as well as water, flavoring, and a small amount of nicotine. As many as 80% of regular users of the product are now using it in place of all the tobacco cigarettes they formerly smoked.

"Judge Leon's ruling is a step forward in public health, despite what some anti-smoking organizations may claim. Getting thousands of smokers to stop smoking is a good thing, even if it's with a method that currently only common sense can say is safer," said Dr. Theresa Whitt, CASAA's Medical Director.

Tobacco cigarettes deliver nicotine via the process of combustion, which produces smoke that contains tar, particles of tobacco and paper ash, carbon monoxide, heavy metals, hundreds of carcinogens, and thousands of toxins. "In the absence of quitting," continued Dr. Whitt, "smokers must have alternatives available to them, to reduce their exposure to the dangers of tobacco smoke."

Many organizations have taken a position that smokers must achieve smoking cessation only through complete nicotine abstinence. This position has been characterized as a "quit or die" mentality.

Public health groups such as the American Association of Public Health Physicians (AAPHP) have called for a Tobacco Harm Reduction approach which steers smokers toward less-harmful sources of nicotine such as smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes, as well as nicotine replacement products in higher more-satisfying dosages. (2)

"When anti-tobacco groups fail to acknowledge the viability of reduced harm alternatives, disregarding the fact that 93% of smokers fail at repeated attempts to quit, they ultimately fail to protect public health," stated Whitt.

"Anti-smoking activists and the FDA should be encouraging smokers to make the switch to reduced harm products such as electronic cigarettes, not making it harder for them."

1. Smoking Everywhere vs. FDA, http://ecf.dcd.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/show_public_doc?2009cv0771-54, USCourts.gov

2. American Association of Public Health Physicians, http://www.aaphp.org/special/joelstobac/2009/TobaccBill.htm, AAPHP.org

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