Posted by on Mar 1, 2017 in Patient Care | 0 comments


The good news

is that the smoking rate among New York’s high school students declined to a historic low of 4.3 percent in 2016.

The bad news

is that during the last two years, the use of e-cigarettes among youth nearly doubled from 10.5 percent in 2014 to 20.6 percent in 2016. Many young people are lured by the intentionally sweet flavors and the mistaken belief that e-cigarettes are safe to use.

But e-cigarettes are not safe. Both cigarettes and e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive and can cause permanent changes in young, developing brains.

In addition, although combustible tobacco products contain more toxins than e-cigarettes, the aerosol produced by e-cigarettes is not a harmless water vapor. Rather, it often contains ultrafine particles that have been linked to lung disease; heavy metals such as tin, lead and nickel; and volatile organic compounds such as benzene and toluene.

Research also shows that the use of e-cigarettes by young people is associated with the use of other tobacco products, including cigarettes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers e-cigarettes a tobacco product, as does the Department of Health. Governor Cuomo’s 2017 Executive Budget proposes regulating and taxing e-cigarettes in a similar manner as traditional cigarettes. This proposal would include e-cigarettes in the state’s comprehensive indoor air law and impose a 10 cent per milliliter tax on vapor products, thereby reducing the affordability of vapor products for youth, the age group most sensitive to price.

But we need physicians to weigh in, too. I encourage all health care providers to talk to their patients – young and old alike – about the dangers of e-cigarettes and to discourage their use. For patients who are already using traditional cigarettes or e-cigarettes, there are currently seven FDA-approved medications for smoking cessation, including five nicotine replacement therapies. Medicaid and most insurance plans will cover a portion of the cost of smoking cessation products.

Howard A. Zucker, M.D., J.D., New York State Commissioner of Health

Local confirmation of the bad news

Researchers Break Down Chemicals in E-cig Flavorings, Impact on Lungs

The label may say “cinnamon” or “vanilla” but the true contents of e-cigarette flavorings are acetoin, diacetyl, and other chemical additives that are known to irritate the respiratory tract and impair lung function, according to a collaborative study from western New York scientists.

Senior author Irfan Rahman, Ph.D., professor of Environmental Medicine and part of the Lung Biology and Disease Program at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said the findings suggest that chemical flavorings in e-cigarettes not only cause inflammation but may rapidly impair the critical epithelial cells in the airways, which act as the first defense against infections and toxins. When the epithelial barrier becomes more permeable or leaky due to chemical assaults, life-threatening lung diseases can occur.

Click here to read more about this local URMC study.

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