American Medical Association Wants To Ban All E-Cigs And Vaping Products

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The American Medical Association on Tuesday called for an immediate ban on all electronic cigarettes and vaping devices.

The
group adopted the sweeping stance at a policy-making meeting in San
Diego. It aims to lobby for state and federal laws, regulations or legal
action to achieve a ban, but the industry is sure to fight back.

The AMA cited a surge in underage teen use of e-cigarettes, which typically heat a solution that contains nicotine.

“It’s
simple, we must keep nicotine products out of the hands of young
people.” Dr. Patrice Harris, AMA’s president, said in a statement.

The
doctors’ group said a separate health issue also prompted its action —
the recent U.S. outbreak of lung illnesses linked to vaping. Most of
those sickened said they vaped THC, the high-inducing ingredient in
marijuana, not nicotine. Officials believe a thickening agent used in
black market THC vaping products may be a culprit.

The outbreak
has “shined a light on the fact that we have very little evidence about
the short- and long-term health consequences of e-cigarettes and vaping
products,” Harris said. About 2,100 people have gotten sick; 42 have
died.

The AMA has previously sought bans on e-cigarette flavors and ads.

Some observers say the AMA’s position is flawed and has little chance of achieving a sweeping ban.

“I
would be 100% with the AMA if they were seeking a ban on all tobacco
products that are smoked, including e-cigarettes,” said Jonathan Foulds,
a tobacco addiction specialist at Penn State University. “But right
now, nicotine electronic cigarettes are competing with and replacing the
most harmful legal product in this country.”

Gregory Conley,
president of the American Vaping Association, a pro-vaping advocacy
group, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has made
clear that its focus “is not store-bought nicotine vaping products, but
illicit contaminated THC oil cartridges sold by drug dealers.”

“It
would be a mistake for adult smokers and their families to listen to
these misguided prohibitionists, as the evidence continues to indicate
that adult smokers who switch to nicotine vaping products greatly
improve their health,” Conley said.

The AMA policy calls for a ban
of vaping products not approved to help people quit. But so far, none
have been reviewed or approved for that use by the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration.

Stephanie Caccomo, an FDA press officer, said the
agency is “committed to doing everything we can to prevent kids from
using tobacco products and will continue to develop a policy approach
that aligns with that concern.”

Juul Labs, the nation’s biggest e-cigarette maker, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

E-cigarettes
first appeared in the U.S. more than a decade ago and have grown in
popularity despite little research on their long-term effects. The FDA
has been widely criticized for repeatedly pushing back its own deadline
to begin reviewing thousands of vaping products on the market, at one
point until 2022. The deadline is now next May.

By Lindsey Tanner. AP writer Matthew Perrone in Washington contributed to this report.