GAINESVILLE, Fla., July 28 /PRNewswire/ -- As the FDA put out a news release concerning its stance on electronic cigarette products last week, the administration only tested two different brands. What many e-cigarette users say is important about these brands is that they are made by the two manufacturers currently suing the FDA in federal court, Smoking Everywhere and Njoy.
"In comparison to the toxins and carcinogens contained in tobacco cigarettes, the FDA's evidence that the products are dangerous is laughable at best," says Tiffany Ellis, Public Relations Manager of Ecigarettesnational.com. "They only tested two brands and they just happen to be the brands suing them in court. Consider what e-cigarettes don't have in them that tobacco cigarettes do: cadmium, nickel, radioactive Polonium 210, cyanide, butane, arsenic, acetone ... the list goes on into the thousands. And they found ... 1% diethylene glycol in 1 out of 18 cartridges?"
The doctors that performed the studies are also falling under scrutiny, because the public at large knows nothing about them. Who they are, who their past affiliations are, and perhaps most importantly, what their own political leanings are. One of them, Jonathan Samet, M.D., has been railing against anything having to do with smoking since the 1980's. Joshua M. Sharfstein also served as health policy advisor to Congressman Henry A. Waxman, originator of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act signed by President Obama this summer. The bill gives the FDA authority over tobacco products, while at the same time stating that the FDA has absolutely no authority to ban them.
"These aren't unbiased health studies," says Ellis. "They're studies by the same basically bankrupt FDA that can't tell Congress how much more money they need because they can't afford to hire someone to find out how much more they need. They let known suicide-inducing drugs like Chantix and Zyban stay on the market when they're known to be very dangerous. We've been accused of being biased in the studies our industry has had done, now we're accusing them."
Others are concerned that the FDA is attempting to overexert itself, given the fact that it is largely over budget and burdened with "a plethora of inadequacies," as the administration stated back in 2007. The administration's self-admitted shortcomings have yet to be addressed, according to the Government Accountability Office as of July 20th, 2009. The FDA admitted that out of the 522,000+ drug-related adverse-event reports in 2008, they have no idea which or even how many of those reports have actually been reviewed.
Inadequate funding, lack of leadership, lack of up to date scientists, and an ancient computer network give pause to average citizens presented with the idea of the FDA attempting to exert authority over e-cigarettes. Considering the amount of male enhancement and weight loss drugs plaguing late night television that have gone unregulated by the FDA for years, the question of why they are paying so much attention to e-cigarettes is being raised.
Arguments that because the cartridges are available in varying flavors they may be appealing to children has been presented as well, even though there are a myriad of over-the-counter items strictly for adults available in flavors, including cherry-flavored cough syrups (often with a large percentage of alcohol) and berry, orange, and mint-flavored antacid tablets. Flavored energy drinks are available across the country for minors to purchase while the more compact and potent energy shots are often marketed at the checkout counters of gas stations and department stores within easy reach. Toy-shaped novelty cigarette lighters for adults also grace gas station counters and somehow do not create this level of government outcry.
"I think they're overextending themselves and focusing their efforts in the wrong area here," says Ellis. "People are being given the choice of 'cheap, but deadly' and 'expensive, but safe' and a lot of people don't have the money for the safe option. They either have to pay an outrageous tax to government to get the nicotine or they have to jump through hoops to be able to get an FDA-approved nicotine inhaler that costs just as much as the cigarettes. To avoid the hassle of going to the doctor and getting a prescription, most will choose tobacco. We've tried to create a middle ground here."
With the economy in its current state, people search for cheaper options when it comes to everyday life and for most, nicotine replacement therapies like gums, patches, and inhalers are quite simply out of reach. Even for the ones who can afford the prescriptions or the over-the-counter patches and gums, the habit of picking up a cigarette and taking a drag off of it still lingers in the back of their minds.
In a nation that is struggling with the demands of a failing healthcare system, a failing economy, and a disgruntled people that have had enough of both, the question remains whether a product caught in the middle will continue to be a source of contention between the government and the people.
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