LA Times – Capitol Times: Lawmakers show surprising courage against Big Tobacco

The Legislature showed some guts last week in standing up to the tobacco lobby and its political money.

It could have shown more, however, by mustering the courage to raise taxes on cigarettes, cigars and chewing crud.

California’s tobacco tax is among the lowest in the nation and hasn’t been hiked since 1998 — and then only by the voters, not the weak-kneed legislators.

The national average state cigarette tax is $1.61 per pack. California’s is about half that, 87 cents. We rank 35th. New York is first at $4.35.

But give our lawmakers credit: They did the next best thing, even if it was a punt to local government. They passed a bill allowing counties to seek voter approval of a local tobacco tax.

The tax revenue could be used to help smokers kick the habit and treat their tobacco-related ailments.

The main purpose, however, is to discourage people from buying smokes, a strategy that works — and worries cigarette makers. Researchers have found that for every 10% increase in the cigarette price, there’s a 4% reduction in use.

Let’s put the rap on legislative fortitude in perspective: To pass any tax increase, a two-thirds vote is needed. Passing a bill that allows someone else to raise a tax requires only a simple majority, which Democrats can handle without buying off Republicans.

The local tax bill, by Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), passed the Assembly on a 46-27 vote, far short of the 54 needed for two-thirds.

“Tobacco is a poison,” Bloom told me. “We shouldn’t even be debating this anymore. We should be doing everything to keep it out of the hands of young people.”

It was a bad day for tobacco interests. The Assembly passed two other bills that could have even greater immediate impact.

One, by Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), would raise the smoking age from 18 to 21.

Opponents argued it wouldn’t be fair that someone under 21 could die for their country but couldn’t smoke. So active military personnel were exempted.

The bill passed 49 to 25.

Hernandez says research shows that 90% of smokers begin puffing before age 21, and 80% before 18.

San Francisco last week raised its smoking age to 21. So have Hawaii and New York City.

But I’m skeptical. Come on! We can’t even enforce the age 18 limit. Kids get smokes at 14 or whenever they want.

Yes, argue the proposal’s advocates, but the 14-year-olds get their cigarettes from 18-year-olds. They wouldn’t be close enough to the 21-year-olds.

Perhaps. But what’s to stop the 18-year-olds from being supplied by those who are 21, and then passing them down to little sister?

The second big bill that passed makes total sense and is overdue. The measure, by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), would regulate electronic cigarettes like tobacco. Their use would be prohibited everywhere cigarettes are banned: in restaurants, theaters and other public places.

These cute vapor devices are particularly appealing to minors, sold with yummy flavors such as chocolate, cotton candy and cherry — and usually laced with addictive nicotine.

The bill passed 52 to 21.

One Los Angeles study, Leno says, found that 9th-graders who use e-cigarettes are four times as likely to get hooked on tobacco.

“Clearly, Big Tobacco’s next move is to addict a new generation to nicotine,” Leno says.

Three other anti-smoking bills also passed the Assembly the same day. One would close loopholes in the state’s smoke-free workplace laws. Another would require all schools to be tobacco free. The third would impose a state licensing fee on tobacco retailers.

Passage of the six-bill package earned kudos for Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) on her last day as Assembly leader. Assemblyman Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) takes over this week.

Last year, the tobacco lobby and its legislative minions stalled the bills in the Assembly after two key measures — raising the smoking age and regulating e-cigarettes — passed the Senate.

One reason is obvious: So far in this election cycle, the major tobacco companies have plied legislators with nearly $364,000 in campaign contributions, according to MapLight, which tracks political money. Of that, 83% has gone to Republicans — who make up only 35% of the Legislature — and 17% to Democrats.

Add the last election cycle to this one, and Big Tobacco has donated $894,000, 71% to Republicans and 29% to Democrats.

Most Democrats voted for the anti-tobacco legislation. Most Republicans voted against.

The Senate intends to approve Assembly amendments and send the entire package to noncommittal Gov. Jerry Brown this week. Unless.

Behind the scenes, Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) quietly is offering to negotiate with tobacco. If the industry were to allow the Legislature to pass a state tobacco tax, perhaps some of the package could be snuffed.

Then sponsors of a November ballot initiative that would raise the state cigarette tax by $2 per pack might be persuaded to withdraw their measure. That would save the tobacco industry upward of $100 million fighting the initiative.

And unions that are pushing it could plow their money into Democratic legislative races instead. Plus, there wouldn’t be a tobacco tax on the ballot to complicate life for a union-sponsored extension of Brown’s soak-the-rich income tax hike.

It’s all very complex. And unlikely. The Legislature has exhibited about all the courage it can against terrifying tobacco.

ADA News: ADA, others "concerned" about tobacco products

By Jennifer Garvin, American Dental Association News

Silver Spring, Md. — The ADA and 35 other health organizations have asked the Food and Drug Administration to be more diligent about requiring tobacco companies to obtain approval before introducing new tobacco products to market.

In a Feb. 26 letter to Mitchell Zeller, director, Center for Tobacco Products, the organizations shared that they are “increasingly concerned” that tobacco companies are introducing new tobacco products into the marketplace without proper regulatory review.

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009 gave the FDA unprecedented authority to regulate the manufacturing, distribution and marketing of tobacco products. It also requires tobacco companies to seek FDA approval before introducing new tobacco products to the market.

“The premarket review provisions of the Tobacco Control Act are intended to prevent the tobacco industry from continuing to introduce new tobacco products that are more harmful, more addictive and more appealing, particularly to young people,” stated the letter.

The letter also points out that the Tobacco Control Act prohibits commercial marketing of a new tobacco product unless FDA has issued an order finding the product “appropriate for the protection of the public health.” It singles out several new products it claims are non-compliant with the act. These products include:

  • Marlboro Midnight, a menthol cigarette;
  • Grizzly Wintergreen, a new snuff;
  • Three new brands of snus from Kretek International Inc: Thunder Xtreme, Offroad and Oden’s Extreme;
  • Marlboro Black NXT, a crushable menthol capsule.

“FDA’s failure to take the actions necessary to remove these products from the market represents a serious failure to protect the public health,” the letter stated.

“Given that the avoidance of premarket review seriously undercuts the public health protections of the Tobacco Control Act, please explain why no enforcement actions have been taken by FDA against these products and indicate what the agency plans to do to prevent additional products from entering the market without the required regulatory review.”

Read the entire letter here.

Bismarck Tribune: Study links chemical in e-cigs to lung cancer

BLAIR EMERSON Bismarck Tribune
A new study found e-cigarettes may not be a safer alternative to smoking tobacco.
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health recently published the results of a study that found popular e-cigarette flavors contain diacetyl, a chemical linked to a severe lung disease.
“This latest study … is yet another reminder that e-cigarettes are not a safe alternative to tobacco use,” said Jeanne Prom, executive director of the North Dakota Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy.
Researchers studied 51 types of flavored e-cigarettes that appeal to youths. Many E-cigarette brands offer fruit and candy flavors, which Prom said are unique and target kids.
The North Dakota 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey reports that 22 percent of high school students report using e-cigarettes at least once in the month prior to taking the survey.
“Our own North Dakota high school students have tried these products,” Prom said. “It’s not a safe alternative. … You’re really just swapping out one poison for another.”

Diacetyl is a flavoring chemical linked to a type of lung disease called bronchiolitis obliterans, or “popcorn lung,” which got its name after workers contracted the lung disease while working in microwave popcorn factories.
Currently, e-cigarettes are unregulated, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proposed a rule to regulate e-cigarettes just as the agency regulates cigarettes and other tobacco products.
“It is our hope that the FDA’s final rules are released very soon and can provide some regulatory framework that can lead to these products being more properly regulated and less available to kids,” she said.

National Survey Shows Youth Cigarette Smoking Again Falls to Record Low, but E-Cigarettes and Cigars Threaten Progress

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:            December 16, 2015
National Survey Shows Youth Cigarette Smoking Again Falls to Record Low, but E-Cigarettes and Cigars Threaten Progress
Results Show Why FDA Must Act Now to Regulate E-Cigarettes and Cigars 
Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
WASHINGTON, DC – In terrific news for the nation’s health, the government-sponsored Monitoring the Future survey released today shows that the steep, decades-long decline in youth cigarette smoking continues, with smoking rates falling to record lows in 2015 among all three grades surveyed (grades 8, 10 and 12). Cigarette use among 12th graders fell to just 11.4 percent from 13.6 percent last year and 36.5 percent in 1997, representing extraordinary and historic progress.
However, the survey also contains fresh warning signs that other tobacco products – electronic cigarettes and cigars that are sold in an array of sweet, kid-friendly flavors – may be undermining these gains and luring kids into nicotine addiction. For the second year in a row, the survey finds that significantly more teens reported using e-cigarettes than regular cigarettes in the past 30 days. In addition, teens reported using flavored little cigars at the same rate as cigarettes, and the percentage of teens who smoked tobacco in the past 30 days increased by more than half when cigarillos are included with regular cigarettes.
These findings should spur the White House to quickly issue a long-overdue rule providing for Food and Drug Administration regulation of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and cigars. It has been nearly 20 months since the FDA issued its proposed rule and nearly two months since the FDA sent the final rule to the White House for review. We cannot afford further delays that allow the tobacco industry to continue targeting our kids with a new generation of tobacco products. In addition, Congress must let the FDA do its job and reject proposals to weaken the FDA’s authority over e-cigarettes, cigars or any tobacco product.
The continuing decline in youth cigarette smoking is unquestionably good news that will improve the nation’s health and save lives:

  • For all three grades combined, the percentage of students who reporting smoking cigarettes in the prior 30 days fell from 8 percent in 2014 to 7 percent in 2015 – a statistically significant drop. Past-month smoking fell to 3.6 percent among 8th graders, 6.3 percent among 10th graders and 11.4 percent among 12th graders, all record lows.
  • Long-term trends are especially dramatic. Since peaking around 1996-1997, smoking rates have fallen by 83 percent among 8th graders, 79 percent among 10th graders and 69 percent among 12th graders. Daily cigarette use has fallen even more steeply, with just 5.5 percent of 12th graders reporting daily smoking in 2015.

These results demonstrate that we know how to win the fight against tobacco by implementing science-based strategies. These include higher tobacco taxes, strong smoke-free laws, well-funded tobacco prevention and cessation programs that include mass media campaigns, increasing the tobacco sale age to 21 and effective FDA regulation of tobacco products. Progress has accelerated following the largest-ever increase in the federal cigarette tax (a 62-cent increase implemented in 2009) and unprecedented national media campaigns launched by the CDC, the FDA and Truth Initiative. Rather than breeding complacency, our progress should spur elected officials to step up these proven measures and end the tobacco epidemic for good.
The survey’s findings on e-cigarettes and cigars are deeply troubling:

  • In all three grades, e-cigarette use far exceeded regular cigarette use in the past 30 days – 9.5 percent to 3.6 percent among 8th graders, 14 percent to 6.3 percent among 10th graders and 16.2 percent to 11.4 percent among 12th graders. These results also indicate e-cigarettes are more likely to be a pathway to tobacco addiction than away from it. More than half of students said their primary reasons for using e-cigarettes was to experiment and more than 30 percent said it was because they tasted good, while less than 10 percent said they used e-cigarettes to help quit regular cigarettes.
  • Teens reported smoking flavored little cigars at the same rate as cigarettes, with 11.4 percent of 12th graders reporting use of flavored little cigars in the past 30 days. When both cigarettes and flavored cigarillos are included, smoking rates in the past 30 days increased to 6.6 percent among 8th graders, 9.8 percent among 10th graders and 17.8 percent among 12th graders.

These findings are not surprising given the irresponsible marketing of e-cigarettes and cigars in a wide variety of kid-friendly flavors, such as gummy bear, cotton candy and watermelon.  E-cigarette makers have marketed their products with the same tactics long used to market regular cigarettes to kids, including celebrity endorsements, slick TV and magazine ads, and sponsorships of race cars and concerts.
Despite our progress, we cannot let up in the fight against tobacco because the tobacco industry never lets up. The industry spends $9.6 billion a year – more than $1 million every hour – to market its deadly products, and it is constantly seeking innovative ways to entice our kids. It’s no wonder tobacco use is still the number one cause of preventable death in our country, killing more than 480,000 people and costing about $170 billion in health care expenses each year. We cannot win the fight against tobacco unless elected officials put our nation’s kids and health before the special interests of the tobacco industry.
The Monitoring the Future survey has been conducted annually since 1975 by researchers at the University of Michigan and is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Fargo Forum: WF high school rethinking assignment to urge lawmakers to hike tobacco tax

WEST FARGO – Add to North Dakota’s tobacco tax or leave it alone?
That’s a question Sheyenne High School teachers agree would have been better left up to students to decide.

On Friday, senior government class students teamed up with a freshman health class in a collaborative project to write letters to local legislators about the tobacco tax rate in North Dakota. The students thanked lawmakers who voted to increase the tobacco tax in the state during the last session, and encouraged those who didn’t support a higher tax on tobacco to consider doing so in the future.
“For our state, we have very strict laws as far as tobacco in public buildings, but as far as tobacco tax, we are one of the lowest in the nation, and that’s what we are trying to deter,” health teacher Tom Kirchoffner told WDAY-TV.
The original intent was to send the letters to the legislators, but that’s not what happened.
“After this group of teachers did the project, they sat down and they debriefed it. What were the strengths of that project … and what were some of the areas for improvement?,” district spokeswoman Heather Konschak said Tuesday.
That debriefing took place Friday, she said.
“They realized as they chatted about it that one of the areas for improvement would have been that they gave the student group their perspective,” Konschak said. “The students weren’t able to discuss it and come up with their own perspective. And from a government class standpoint, that’s not what you do. You allow kids to discuss and form their own perspective and viewpoint.”
The teachers “decided that because that’s not what happened in the project, that they weren’t going to send the letters,” because it is possible that’s “not an accurate depiction of what the kids would have picked if they had been given the opportunity to do it on their own,” Konschak said.
The decision was “there should have been more open dialogue,” to let the students choose their positions on the issue, Konschak said.
Konschak said one of the teachers got the idea from a conference. The project was in addition to the required curriculum, she said.
Kirchoffner didn’t immediately return a phone message seeking comment Tuesday. He was unavailable because he’s a basketball coach and was traveling to a game, Konschak said.
North Dakota’s tax per pack of cigarettes is 44 cents, which puts it at 48th in the nation. Minnesota’s per pack tax is $2.90, putting it at No. 8 in the U.S., according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
New York has the highest state tax per pack at $4.35, while Missouri has the lowest state tax at 17 cents per pack. The national average is $1.60 per pack, the campaign reports.
Those figures do not include local taxes. The highest state-local tax combination per pack is $6.16 in Chicago, with New York City second at $5.85 per pack, the campaign reports.

Bismarck Tribune Editorial: N.D. becomes leader in tobacco fight

North Dakota has garnered praise for its spending efforts to reduce tobacco use. There’s a little irony in this since the Legislature in the past has questioned the amount of spending.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids looked at how states used the billions of dollars received from lawsuits settled with major tobacco companies in 1998.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, North Dakota is the only state to spend at levels it recommended. The state also was one of five states to spend at least 50 percent of what the CDC recommends.
Spending by states on tobacco prevention programs bottomed out at $459.5 million in 2013, according to the campaign’s report, and is expected to reach $468 million in 2016. At the same time, an estimated $25.8 billion will be collected in settlement funds and tobacco taxes. Tobacco companies reportedly spend about $9.6 billion a year on marketing. North Dakota has $10 million planned for fiscal year 2016.
The anti-tobacco campaign appears to be working.
A survey conducted by the state Department of Public Instruction and the Department of Health shows 80 percent of the students responding said they did not use cigarettes, cigars or smokeless tobacco, an increase from 74 percent two years ago. The percentage of high school students who said they had smoked a cigarette at least once in the month dropped from 19 percent to 12 percent. The percentage of high school students who said they had ever tried to smoke a cigarette was 35 percent, down from 41 percent in 2013. Smokeless tobacco use declined from 14 percent to 11 percent this year.

The anti-tobacco effort emphasizes keeping kids from using tobacco and if they do, getting them to quit. The numbers indicate they are being successful. Some have questioned the amount of money being spent and how it’s being used. While the campaign may appear heavy-handed at times, it’s getting the point across. In the past some legislators wanted to spend less on anti-tobacco efforts and divert the tobacco settlement money to other programs. In 2008 North Dakotans passed a measure requiring a portion of the settlement funds be used for tobacco prevention.
Even a tobacco company favors the spending. “We believe states should use (settlement) payments to fund tobacco cessation and underage tobacco prevention programs at levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control,” Brian May, a spokesman for Philip Morris, told the Forum News Service.
The anti-tobacco effort has been successful in other areas with smoking banned in public areas. And now the efforts go beyond traditional forms of tobacco to vaporing products. The dangers of second-hand smoke is another focus, with apartment residents being urged to demand a smoke-free environment. Some may think this is going too far, but anti-tobacco campaign is on a roll and has the money to keep going.
Society is getting closer to being smoke-free, too fast for some and too slowly for others.

Fargo Forum editorial: Tobacco cessation succeeds

There is good news in the war against tobacco use: North Dakota is winning.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said last week that North Dakota is the only state spending at levels recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on tobacco cessation programs. That level is 50 percent of funds designated from the 1998 tobacco settlement lawsuits.

But it’s about more than spending dollars where they were meant to be spent. It’s about results, and on that score North Dakota is a leader. For example, a portion of the money was spent to fund a study of secondhand smoke’s effects in Grand Forks, the results of which were pivotal in that city passing a 2010 law that outlawed smoking in bars, casinos and truck stops. Several North Dakota cities, using information compiled locally and by the North Dakota Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy, easily approved ordinances directed at ending secondhand smoke in public places and businesses. Most of the cities were ahead of a Legislature that remained in the thrall of the state’s tobacco lobby, and it took a 2012 ballot measure to impose statewide restrictions on smoking and secondhand smoke.
There has been some grousing and whining about how tobacco settlement money is being spent in North Dakota. It’s come mostly from special interests that lost the tobacco cessation battle years ago. They were wrong then and are wrong now about the effects of the expenditures. For example, during the time that education and public service efforts were ratcheted up, smoking among youths plunged to 11.7 percent this year after hovering at about 20 percent the eight previous years.
Anti-tobacco programs work. The statistics are unambiguous. Tobacco settlement money has been well-spent in North Dakota, and the CDC and others recognize the state’s success. That’s good news.
Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board

WDAY: Sheyenne students write letters to lawmakers asking them to raise tobacco tax

West Fargo (WDAY TV) – A creative collaboration for students at Sheyenne High School happened Friday.
Senior government students teamed up with a freshman health class to write letters to local legislators on the tobacco tax rate in North Dakota. Students thanked legislators who voted to increase the tobacco tax throughout the state in the last legislative session and encouraged ones who didn’t to think about doing so in the future.

Currently, North Dakota’s tax is 44 cents per carton [sic] of cigarettes.
“For our state we have very strict laws as far as tobacco in public buildings, nut as far as tobacco tax, we are one of the lowest in the nation and that’s what we are trying to deter,” Sheyenne High School Teacher Tom Kirchoffner said.
According to the Campaign For Tobacco Free Kids, the average tobacco tax in the U.S. is $1.60 per pack. The campaign claims North Dakota has the third lowest tax rate.
Read more or watch the video:

Grand Forks Herald: Report: North Dakota only state spending enough on tobacco prevention

A report released this week argues almost every state in the country is not spending enough money on tobacco prevention and cessation programs—every state, that is, except for North Dakota.
The report, released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, focuses in part on the billions of dollars states have received since they settled lawsuits against major tobacco companies in 1998. With $10 million set aside for fiscal year 2016, North Dakota is the only state to spend at levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and was one of five states to spend at least 50 percent of what the CDC recommends.
“It’s so frustrating because it’s such a critical investment, and we’re talking about such a small amount of money,” said John Schachter, director of state communications for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “When there’s a pot from which to draw from logically—tobacco taxes and the settlement—as we say, it’s a no-brainer.”
States spent as much as $717.2 million on tobacco prevention programs in fiscal year 2008, but that dropped during the recession and bottomed out at $459.5 million in 2013, according to the campaign’s report. Spending will reach $468 million in fiscal year 2016, a fraction of the estimated $25.8 billion they will collect in settlement funds and tobacco taxes, though the budgets for two states were not yet available.
Tobacco companies spend about $9.6 billion a year on marketing, according to the campaign’s report.
“We believe states should use (settlement) payments to fund tobacco cessation and underage tobacco prevention programs at levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control,” Brian May, a spokesman for tobacco giant Philip Morris, wrote in an email to the Herald.
While tobacco companies cannot advertise on television or the radio, Schacter said “it’s pretty clear the industry is out there in force.” He said the industry spends most of its marketing dollars at “point of sale,” such as displays at convenience stores and gas stations.
“The states still know it’s an issue, but for whatever reason, they’re deciding to spend the money elsewhere,” Schachter said.

N.D. in the lead

The campaign’s report highlights North Dakota as an example for the rest of the states to follow, citing a drop in high school student smoking rates in recent years.
But North Dakota hasn’t always been a leader in tobacco prevention spending. In fiscal year 2009, it spent just $3.1 million on those programs, or one-third of CDC-recommended funding. That changed with the passing of a measure in 2008 requiring a portion of the settlement dollars be used to reduce tobacco use.
“The settlement did not dictate how the money from the settlement was spent, but it did point out that the settlement was entered into because of the unacceptable behavior of the tobacco industry,” said Jeanne Prom, executive director of the North Dakota Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy.
North Dakota’s tobacco tax revenue is not used for prevention efforts, she said.
Minnesota will receive $791.7 million in total tobacco revenue in fiscal year 2016 but will spend only $21.5 million on prevention programs, less than half of what the CDC recommends, according to the campaign’s report.
Laura Oliven, the tobacco control manager at the Minnesota Department of Health, called the CDC recommendations “aspirational.” She also pointed out the campaign’s figures don’t capture Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Center for Prevention in Minnesota.
Minnesota’s adult smoking rate has dropped to 14.4 percent, the lowest it has ever recorded, the health department announced in January.
“We do a lot to maximize the funds we have,” Oliven said. “I guess the theme here really is that while we’ve made a lot of great strides, there’s still considerable work to be done.”

Local outcomes

Haley Thorson, a tobacco prevention coordinator at the Grand Forks Public Health Department, said tobacco settlement dollars helped fund a study asking residents about second-hand smoke. She called that a “pivotal piece of information” in Grand Forks passing a law in 2010 that outlawed smoking in bars, casinos and truck stops.
“That policy was passed by the City Council because we really did have the pulse of how the community supported that policy,” she said.
North Dakota passed a similar statewide law in 2012.
The health department receives about $300,000 annually from the Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy, or BreatheND. Thorson said it focuses much of its efforts on tobacco-related policies.
“We used to go into schools and educate kids on the harms of tobacco use, but the better bang for our buck is to establish a comprehensive tobacco-free school policy that allows them to be educated in an environment where they’re not exposed to tobacco use,” she said.
Those efforts appear to be working.
The percentage of North Dakota high school students who smoked at least once in the past month plunged to 11.7 percent this year after hovering around 20 percent for the eight previous years, according to survey results provided by Thorson.
“For the states that aren’t spending anything or next to nothing, they need to see results like these,” Thorson said.

USA Today Network: Study suggests link between flavor in e-cigarettes and lung disease

, USA TODAY Network
Flavored e-cigarettes may seem like an alternative to smoking, but researchers warn that flavored e-cigarettes may not be worth the unknown long-term risks.
Researchers at the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health tested 51 types of flavored e-cigarettes and flavor canisters for diacetyl, acetoin, and 2,3-pentanedione; three chemicals known to cause respiratory problems in factory workers.
The study tested popular e-cigarette flavors like bubble gum, cotton candy and tutti frutti, and found, at least one of the three chemicals were present in 47 of the 51 products they tested.
With around 7,000 e-cigarette flavors on the market, consumers are essentially at the mercy of the manufacturers, with little hope of knowing what chemicals are used in the products, according to Taylor Hays, director of Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center.
“There are no FDA regulations on these products. It’s the Wild West of e-cigarettes,” Hays told USA TODAY Network.
He says the popularity of e-cigarettes continues to grow among adults that think the products will wean them off of regular cigarettes and among younger users. The percentage of teens using e-cigarettes tripled from 2013 to 2014, according to an April report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The study was published Wednesday in the journal Environmental Health Prospectives.
Diacetyl has been directly linked to “bronchiolitis obliterans,” which in serious cases can require lung transplants, according to Robert Kotloff, chair of pulmonary medicine at Cleveland Clinic.
The disease, also known as “popcorn lung,” got its name from workers who developed the disease after inhaling diacetyl while working in popcorn factories, according to Kotloff.
While the study doesn’t provide a concrete link between flavored e-cigarette use and lung disease, it does further the debate over the unknown long-term consequences of e-cigarettes use.
“[The study] is an intermediary step showing the presence of a compound which could potentially predispose individuals to develop bronchiolitis obliterans,” Kotloff told USA TODAY Network.