The potential dangers of electronic cigarettes have members of the Pennsylvania Medical Society concerned, and until more is known about the products, the state's physicians believe they should be treated no differently than tobacco products.
Meeting at the Pennsylvania Medical Society's annual House of Delegates in Hershey on October 26-27, more than 200 physicians voted to address the issue by calling upon the state legislature to pass electronic cigarette laws that have safeguards equivalent to existing tobacco laws, including taxation and banning sales to minors.
Furthermore, the doctors want Pennsylvania schools to include the potential dangers of electronic cigarettes in their tobacco education efforts.
The issue was presented by the Berks County Medical Society.
"Electronic cigarettes mimic smoking tobacco cigarettes and deliver nicotine to the body," says Bruce A. MacLeod, MD, president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society and a practicing emergency medicine physician in Pittsburgh. "For some it may be a used to beat their nicotine addiction. On the other hand electronic cigarettes are addicting. And many of the marketing materials appear to be geared to younger individuals."
According to Dr. MacLeod, there are a lot of unknowns about electronic cigarettes, and until more facts are known, they should not be treated any differently from traditional cigarettes.
"They may be odorless and give the appearance of being less harmful, but beyond that, we just don't know the impact that the vapors have on the user and others," Dr. MacLeod says. "It may be best for now to err on the side of caution while researchers investigate."
Regardless of the vapors issue, MacLeod also stresses that nicotine has been linked to health problems, and should be avoided.
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