(NaturalSociety) They may not burn tobacco, but the jury is still out on just how safe e-cigarettes are. As a growing number of people are turning to the devices that allow them to “smoke” indoors or take their nicotine habits where cigarettes aren’t normally allowed, the Welsh government is pushing back, calling for a ban in public places. Ask the US CDC director what he thinks and he’s likely to tell you he approves of the ban, as the e-cigarette craze stands to “harm children,” “normalize smoking,” and do nothing to help people quit smoking cigarettes.
In Wales, smoking indoors was banned in 2007, but e-cigarettes are not covered by the current law. Ministers there are hoping to add the devices to the ban in an effort to stop the craze from popping up in bars, restaurants, and more.
The Daily Mail estimates about 1 million Britons are using e-cigarettes, and officials say they worry the use is glamorizing nicotine addiction.
“We have spent 30 years creating a climate in this country where people understand that smoking is not glamorous or desirable,” says Mark Drakeford, health minister. “We are concerned that e-cigarettes might reverse that tide and act as a gateway to conventional cigarettes.”
E-cigarettes do contain nicotine. And while they may not contain tobacco, it’s the nicotine that is addictive and what has officials worried. In the U.S., Dr. Tom Frieden of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that these devices are not harmless as their makers would have you believe.
“I’ve treated so many adults who are desperate — desperate — to get off tobacco. They all started as kids,” Frieden said to the LA Times. “I see the industry getting another generation of our kids addicted. To me, as a physician, when 1.78 million of our high school kids have tried an e-cigarette and a lot of them are using them regularly … that’s like watching someone harm hundreds of thousands of children.”
Frieden admits, when held up against cigarettes, e-cigarettes are likely less harmful. But, this doesn’t make them safe.
While it’s unlikely to see a ban on e-cigarettes in the U.S., there is a good chance they will come under stricter regulations in coming years. Recently, the FDA announced it would begin the regulation of these products by banning sales to children and requiring warning labels, a good “first step” according to Frieden.