CA Declares Electronic Cigarettes Public Health Threat

A new study addresses the impact of e-cigarettes, which often contain nicotine, on young people.

A new report from the California Department of Public Health is calling e-cigarettes a significant public health concern and encouraging all Californians to avoid using the devices.

E-cigarettes are battery powered devices that turn flavored liquid into vapor. They often contain nicotine.

While there popularity is soaring, public health officials worry about the long-term consequences.

The 21-page report focused on the impact of e-cigarettes on young people.

State officials say e-cigarette use has tripled among high school students and more teens are now using e-cigarettes as opposed to traditional tobacco products.

CDPH Director and State Health Officer Dr. Ron Chapman points to a 1,200 percent increase in the amount of money spent on e-cigarette advertising as one of the reasons.

"E-cigarettes contain nicotine and other harmful chemicals, and the nicotine in them is as addictive as the nicotine in cigarettes," Chapman wrote in an news release announcing the report. "I am advising Californians to avoid the use of e-cigarettes and keep them away from children of all ages."

But not everyone agrees with the state's assessment of e-cigarettes.

Jason Talley, manager of The Vapor Spot in Hollywood said e-cigarettes are not dangerous.

"E-cigarettes are helpful," he said. "E-cigarettes got me off cigarettes. They got many of my friends off cigarettes."

Talley said that he believes the devices are a healthier alternative to traditional cigarette smoking and that the industry is not targeting young people.

On the door of his store, a note indicates that only those over 18 are allowed inside.

He said he discourages young people from using the product.

The Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association, a trade organization for the vapor product industry, also disagrees with the CDPH report.

"We are extremely disappointed that the California Department of Health has taken this step with regards to its position on vapor products," said Phil Daman, president of the organization, in a statement to NBC4. "We remain concerned that the department confuses these technology products with tobacco, and in its advisory has ignored years of well established research that shows the safety of the products and the public health benefit they may offer the millions of Californians who use them as an alternative to tobacco."

Dr. Bruce Hensel said, "Many people report that the E-cigarettes helped them to stop smoking. As a stopgap device they may be helpful. But that doesn't mean that they are harmless and people have to weigh the risks against the benefits."

The report identified a variety of potential health risks from using the devices.

Chapman said nicotine is a highly addictive neurotoxin that can potentially harm brain development.

While many people think the aerosol that comes out of the e-cigarette is water vapor, the report found that it contained at least 10 chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects and reproductive harm.

The report also found that the number of calls to poison control centers involving children drinking the e-cigarette fluid tripled in one year.

CDPH officials said that because most of the e-cigarette liquid is fruit or candy flavored, it may entice small children to accidentally ingest it.

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