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Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) have only been around since 2004, too little time for researchers to complete definitive studies on their effects on human health, but Americans polled by STAT and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health believe that the devices are harmful. This is in direct opposition to the positions of e-cigarette manufacturers, who market their products as a safer alternative to tobacco cigarettes and an effective way to help people stop smoking altogether.

The use of e-cigarettes is increasing rapidly, particularly among youth, and politicians would like to see more regulation of the e-cigarette industry, according to STAT News. Experts agree that e-cigarette regulations should address numerous safety issues, including:

  • Determining whether they are actually safe to operate.
  • Making sure the liquid used is free of contaminants or toxins including diacetyl, which may cause harm to the respiratory system over time.
  • Ensuring that he devices and liquid containers are childproof.
  • Banning e-cigarette advertising that glamorizes and normalizes use
  • Restricting e-cigarette sale to minors.
  • Requiring manufacturers to supply data about the composition of nicotine cartridges and the health effects of the chemical compounds that accompany nicotine in the aerosol inhaled by e-smokers.

Little is known about the widespread effects of e-cigarettes, so added regulations could also create a system for reporting adverse events, such as the December 2014 death of an 18-month-old New York child who drank a vial of liquid nicotine. The child died from cardiac arrhythmia caused by nicotine ingestion, according to the coroner’s report. Liquid nicotine is toxic in doses as small as one-half teaspoon, and even a small amount splashed on a child’s skin can make them very ill, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

In response to the incident, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill requiring child-resistant packaging on all liquid nicotine sold in New York, and banning the sale of the substance to those under 18.

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