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Researchers are working hard to determine the cause of more than 500 reported cases of lung illness affecting e-cigarette users. But even before this outbreak, e-cigarettes divided the medical community. Public Health England describes e-cigarettes as "at least 95% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes" – a claim New York University professor David Abrams agrees with. Abrams tells "CBS This Morning" Tony Dokoupil why he's concerned about what the current panic about e-cigarette safety could mean for public health.

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Banning flavored e-cigarettes is all the rage among politicians these days. It's an alarming trend that poses a clear and present danger to public health. The epidemic of misguided meddling began earlier this month when Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced that she planned to unilaterally criminalize the sale of e-cigarettes in flavors other than tobacco. [...] The official justification for these measures is recent increases in vaping among teenagers, who overwhelmingly prefer the flavors that Whitmer et al. want to ban. [...]

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A study into the impact of flavoured e-cigarettes, on allergic airways disease, suggests that some flavours may worsen the severity of diseases such as asthma. For the first time a model of asthma was used to investigate the effect of a range of popular e-cigarette flavours, with and without nicotine.Dr. David Chapman, UTS researcher and lead author of the study published in Scientific Reports, said this was the first study to investigate the effects of flavoured e-cigarettes with and without nicotine on allergic airways disease.

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For many years, tobacco control researchers have speculated that nicotine delivery systems that allow the smoker to inhale nicotine similar to a cigarette, but without exposure to tobacco combustion products, would be much more acceptable and attractive to smokers than nicotine medications (nicotine replacement medication; NRT) and would substantially benefit public health. Smokers would be able to switch to a satisfying form of nicotine self-administration to manage their nicotine addiction without most of the harm from combusted tobacco.

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Many experts regard the delivery of nicotine through vaping to be less risky than smoking traditional cigarettes, because it avoids most of the harmful combustion products inhaled through cigarette smoke.

Whether vaping works to help people quit smoking continues to be debated, although some clinical trials show it is more effective than other quit aids such as nicotine patches. We know some people who vape in Australia are doing so because they used the practice to quit smoking cigarettes.

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The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention is looking closely at the different flavoured nicotine juices and other substances users may be vaping in e-cigarettes to determine how the aerosol might be affecting users' lungs. On Sept. 12, 2019, the CDC lowered the number of confirmed and probable cases from more than 400 to 380. The number was lower, the agency said, because it is no longer reporting "possible cases." The mystery and concern remain. And, many smokers who use these devices to quit are concerned that a valuable tool may be taken away from them. [...]

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[...] Rudroneel Ghosh spoke with Riccardo Polosa, professor at department of clinical and experimental medicine, University of Catania, Italy, on approaches to mitigating harm caused by tobacco:

How severe is the problem of tobacco harm in India?

The problem is enormous. There are two parts to it. One is the tobacco that Indians smoke which is about 100 million people, and the second is chewing tobacco which entails another 300 million. As you know tobacco can kill, particularly tobacco that you smoke which can cause cardio-vascular disease, [...]

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The Public Health Association (PHA) of New Zealand has issued a public apology over statements made by its CEO Prudence Stone about Marewa Glover [...] In a recent PHA newsletter, Stone stated that Glover was influenced by Philip Morris International and that Glover had made false statements to the select committee considering amendments to the Smoke-free Environments (prohibiting smoking in motor vehicles carrying children) Amendment Bill. “Dr. Stone and the PHA retract these comments and unreservedly apologize to Dr. Glover for the comments made,” the apology stated.

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New York has officially banned most flavored e-cigarettes since vaping-related deaths started to come to light. [...] But the original function of e-cigarettes was to act as a nicotine replacement for those suffering from addiction.

“I've always used these e-cigarettes [for patients] to get them off cigarettes,” Dr. Marc Siegel said Wednesday on FOX Business’ “Varney & Co.” “A study out of the New England Journal of Medicine this year shows that it works better than any other nicotine replacement product -- better than the gum, better than the patch. [...]

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The U.S. is in the middle of a vaping epidemic — an epidemic of panic. Over the past few weeks, there have been reports of a mysterious vaping-related lung disease that impaired — and at least six times killed — otherwise young healthy people. [...] When young people are dying, it is tempting to demand that the government immediately do something . But e-cigarettes pose a complex problem for lawmakers: How do we maximize the public health benefits of vaping while minimizing the harms?

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E-cigarettes will be banned in India with immediate effect, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced on Wednesday. Envisioned as a tool to combat tobacco addiction, electronic cigarettes and other vaping products have become a major problem and increase the risk of children adopting them, she said. "It means the production, manufacturing, import/export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertising related to e-cigarettes are banned," Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said at a press conference.

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Vape shops in the Washington, D.C., area had strong words about President Trump’s move to ban flavored e-cigarettes. “Just because we’ve got a jackass in office doesn’t mean that he gets to put his opinion and his label and screw over millions of hard-working mom and pop shops just like us,” said Preston Paul [...] “Don’t vape,” Trump told reporters Thursday. “We don’t like vaping. I don’t like vaping.” But vape shops say the industry, which includes 20,000 vape and smoke shops nationwide, has been unfairly maligned, in part because of Juul, [...]

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In yet another twist for worried parents: Meet the vaping hoodie.

This high school fashion mainstay — defined by a hood with drawstrings — is now available as a vaping device, ready to deliver a puff of nicotine (or marijuana) anywhere, anytime. Including in the classroom.

It marks an addition to the fleet of discreet — some would say camouflaged — vaping devices that have teachers and parents struggling to monitor the usage of a product that has surged in popularity among high school-aged kids in the past two years, [...]

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E-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc.’s sales have been halted on two websites in China, just days after the products were launched. “While Juul products are not currently available on e-commerce Web sites in China, we look forward to continued dialogue with stakeholders so that we can make our products available again,” Victoria Davis, a Juul spokeswoman, said in a statement Tuesday. Juul has been pushing to expand around the world as it faces regulatory scrutiny in the U.S. [...]

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India on Wednesday announced a complete ban on the sale of all e-cigarettes, saying the devices posed a health risk, especially to young people.

"Unfortunately, e-cigarettes got promoted initially as a way in which people can get out of the habit of smoking cigarettes. It was to be a weaning process from using cigarettes," Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said Wednesday after a Cabinet meeting.
"The Cabinet rightly thought it is time and we immediately took a decision so that the health of our citizens, of our young, is not thrown to a risk," she added.
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California has announced a $20m public awareness campaign about the dangers of vaping and will step up efforts to halt the sale of illicit products amid a rise in vaping-related illnesses. The state’s Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom, announced the actions Monday as part of an executive order. [...] On Monday, public health officials in Washington confirmed two new cases of severe pulmonary disease linked to vaping, bringing the state’s total cases to three. “This is now a statewide outbreak,” said Washington state health officer Kathy Lofy.

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The rate of nicotine vaping among 8th-graders in the U.S. nearly doubled in the past year and the rate among 12th-graders jumped by 22%, according to a new survey released Wednesday

The popularity of e-cigarettes has now grown to the point where one in four 12th-graders reported vaping a nicotine product during the previous 30 days. It’s nearly 1 in 10 for 8th-graders, the study team reports.

The actual rates are probably significantly higher because many e-cigarette users vape non-nicotine products designed to taste like mint, bubblegum, [...]

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An outbreak of a vaping-related illness in the United States has sickened hundreds and may be linked to the deaths of seven people, and an epidemic of youth vaping there has been called a "public health crisis." [...] in the UK, there doesn't appear to be an outbreak of vaping-related sickness. Neither has vaping's popularity soared among young people who never smoked. Rather, e-cigarettes have been embraced mostly as a way for adults to quit combustible cigarettes. Indeed, health authorities in the UK stand by their support for e-cigarettes as a cessation tool.

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New York and Michigan are the first two states in the union to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarette products. Other states are taking notice.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, announced that he has ordered the creation of a task force “to formulate a comprehensive strategy to protect New Jersey residents from the hazards of electronic cigarettes.” Murphy issued this order on September 12, giving the task force 21 days to respond.

Plus, we cannot forget the national flavor ban that the Trump administration announced late last week.

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New Zealand smokers overwhelmingly support removing the nicotine from cigarettes to make them less addictive, a national survey has found.

Eighty per cent of smokers and recent quitters questioned as part of an International Tobacco Control (ITC) study say they would support reducing the level of nicotine in cigarettes and tobacco - as long as nicotine is available in alternative products. The US Food and Drug Administration has proposed reducing nicotine levels in cigarettes to minimal levels to make them less addictive.

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