We couldn't disagree more with Anne Michaud's column calling the use of e-cigarettes, a new "rite of passage" for teenagers .
Her words serve to glorify a product that has the potential to reverse decades of progress in the war against tobacco addiction. She minimizes the health concerns about e-cigarettes and goes so far as to equate using e-cigarettes with teenage boys growing their hair long. That's irresponsible.
While there's much we don't know about e-cigarettes, there's enough we know to sound off the warning bells: e-cigarettes are unregulated (manufacturers don't have to disclose ingredients or health effects), and and multiple studies have found that e-cigarettes with higher voltage levels have higher amounts of the carcinogen formaldehyde.
The e-cigarette industry is using the same tactics Big Tobacco used for decades to addict our kids to deadly products. E-cigarettes are marketed with flavors, and are glamorized using celebrities and sexy imagery.
We believe that adults and teens should steer clear of e-cigarettes. To prevent another generation of users from becoming addicted to the products, the Obama administration must grant the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate e-cigarettes and the State Legislature must restrict their use where smoking is prohibited.
Michael Seilback, Commack
Editor's note: The writer is vice president of public policy and communications for the American Lung Association in the Northeast.
We were highly disappointed to read Anne Michaud's column. The piece inaccurately minimized and expressed doubts about the potential dangers presented by the use of e-cigarettes.
Research conducted in Roswell Park Cancer Institute labs has shown e-cigarette aerosols include nicotine, acrolein (commonly used as a weed killer), the embalming agent formaldehyde and that the cancer-causing chemical and irritant acetaldehyde appears at high voltage levels. Additionally, these aerosols have been shown to contain harmful carcinogenic metals like cadmium, nickel and lead.
The opinion piece expresses doubt about e-cigarettes being a gateway to combustible cigarettes. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that this is a serious problem. It says 75 percent of young people who smoked e-cigarettes smoked combustible cigarettes the same year. Also, e-cigarette manufacturers don't promote their product as a smoking-cessation tool because they know it is not one.
We call on the State Legislature to pass legislation that prohibits smoking e-cigarettes in the same venues in which smoking combustible cigarettes is prohibited. Non-smokers have a right to breathe clean air.
Bill Sherman, Manhattan
Editor's note: The writer is vice president of government relations at the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.