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E-Cigarettes: Information and Policy Statement

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Addiction Medicine FYI

E-Cigarettes: Information and Policy Statement

Description and History

  • "E-cigarettes" or electronic cigarettes are made of long stainless steel tubes with chambers to hold replaceable cartridges filled with various concentrations and flavors of liquid nicotine. They are powered by a rechargeable battery, and because the vapor produced is odorless and doesn't contain tar or carbon monoxide, the manufacturers say their products don't put people at risk for second-hand smoke inhalation.
  • At the time of the enactment of the Tobacco-Free Regulation, E-cigarettes were not an important factor to consider.

Evidence Reviewed on the Issue

  • The FDA has not evaluated any e-cigarettes for safety or effectiveness.
  • When the FDA conducted limited laboratory studies of certain samples, FDA found significant quality issues that indicate that quality control processes used to manufacture these products are substandard or non-existent. FDA found that cartridges labeled as containing no nicotine contained nicotine and that three different electronic cigarette cartridges with the same label emitted a markedly different amount of nicotine with each puff.
  • Experts have also raised concerns that the marketing of products such as e-cigarettes can increase nicotine addiction among young people and may lead kids to try other tobacco products.
  • The high cost of the apparatus and refills.
  • The unknown effect of the nicotine carrier on the lung in its vaporized state.
  • The effect of the E-cigarette on patients attempting to quit cigarette use by introducing cues and triggers into the treatment environment.
  • Limited research on the effects/success of this form of treatment

Provider Concerns on the Issue

  • The need for a consistent policy across the OASAS provider system.

Policy Statement

  • The use of "E-cigarettes" in NYS OASAS licensed programs is allowed as they do not contain tobacco. It should be recognized, however, that new research does caution their use as there is a significant content of carcinogens. The use of this product could also cause cravings in those patients who wish to stop cigarette/cigar use as the act of smoking is a similar behavior.

For more information read our FYI on New Smoking / Nicotine Products