What is an e-cigarette?
An electronic cigarette (or e-cigarette) uses battery power to heat up a liquid that contains nicotine and other chemicals, turning the liquid to vapor. The user inhales the vapor. They are designed to look like cigarettes, cigars, pipes, pens and flashlights.
Are e-cigarettes safe?
E-cigarettes are not regulated and so there is no way to know how much nicotine is in them. This is dangerous because 30-60mg of nicotine is a deadly dose for adults, and even 10mg can be deadly for children. Nicotine is addictive in any form and lethal in high doses. E-cigarettes are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a nicotine replacement therapy or as a way to quit tobacco use. E-cigarettes have not been around long enough to learn how the health of users will be affected in the long term. Users risk being harmed by high levels of chemicals, including nicotine. The companies don’t even have to tell you what is in their products. The liquid in e-cigarettes and the vapor have chemicals that are known to be harmful to humans.
What do the laws say?
E-cigarettes are allowed to be sold in Maine. Under Maine law, e-cigarettes are considered a tobacco product and therefore cannot be sold to minors (this is not true in all states). As of October 15, 2015 E-Cigarettes and other similar products will be treated like combustible traditional cigarettes under Maine smoking laws. Maine will be the 4th state in the nation to prohibit e-cigarettes in public spaces, which is great news for Mainers! Breathe Easy Coalition in Maine is a great resource to find out more information about this. Maine Law on E-Cigarettes Oct 15th
The FDA also recently finalized a rule that will take effect August 6th, 2016. This new rule will allow the FDA to 1. review new tobacco products not yet on the market; 2. help prevent misleading claims by tobacco product manufacturers; 3. evaluate the ingredients of tobacco products and how they are made; and 4. communicate the potential risks of tobacco products. Extending Authorities to All Tobacco Products, Including E-Cigarettes, Cigars, and Hookah
Recent national data shows that youth are experimenting with e-cigarettes at an alarming rate. In 2014, the Monitoring the Future survey, which tracks substance abuse trends over 40,000 youth nationally, found that the use of e-cigarettes among teens surpassed the use of traditional cigarettes. Another survey, the National Youth Tobacco Survey, found that in 2013, e-cigarette use among high school students tripled between 2011 and 2013.
E-cigarette devices may also be used to inhale illegal substances, such as marijuana and hash oil. Because many of these devices are similar in appearance to a ball point pen, school and law enforcement personnel are unaware that inappropriate use of nicotine and illegal substances is occurring.
The use of cartoon characters in advertising and promoting of e-cigarettes as fashion accessories are other ways these products appeal to youth with the implication that they are harmless. Manufacturers report sponsoring concerts, sporting events, and celebrities.
What can employers do?
If an employer has a tobacco-free workplace policy, they should revise it to include e-cigarettes as a form of tobacco. The policy should indicate that smoking in any form though the use of tobacco products (pipes, cigars and cigarettes) or “vaping” with e-cigarettes is prohibited. Allowing employees to smoke e-cigarettes in a tobacco-free workplace may encourage non-smoking employees to smoke regular cigarettes in the workplace or to question why they cannot do so. Contact Michelle for assistance in updating your policy.
What is the best way to quit?
The best health advice is to quit tobacco by using proven methods like calling the Maine Tobacco HelpLine. You are 2 to 3 times more likely to be able to quit when you call the HelpLine than when you try to quit on your own. There are nicotine replacement therapies (like the nicotine patch or gum) and medicines that are approved by the FDA. These can help you avoid withdrawal symptoms and lessen cravings. Visit our Tobacco Cessation page for more valuable information.