Calling for Government Action on E-Cigarettes
E-cigarettes have become a popular substitute for traditional cigarettes, and they are commonly believed to be healthier than rolled cigarettes. The health benefits of e-cigarettes, however, may in fact be negligible, and this is why dental hygienists across Canada are calling for government action to address the growing public health concerns related to e-cigarettes.

The focus, in particular, is on limiting youth access to e-cigarettes by banning sales to minors, prohibiting flavourings in cartridges and e-liquids, and barring e-cigarette use in public settings and workplaces. Many hygienists believe these steps will improve oral, as well as overall, health throughout Canada.

The ‘Smoke Screen’

E-cigarettes came onto the North American market in 2007. Since then, use amongst youth and young adults has increased substantially. Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in Canada, but concerns about the potential for nicotine addiction, renormalization of tobacco use, and other unforeseen, adverse health effects are growing rapidly.

Most dental hygienists in Canada believe that unregulated production, sale, and use of e-cigarettes represent a significant public health concern. This is mainly due to the fact that consumers might not believe that e-cigarettes are actually harmful to their health.

“Although they are perceived to be less harmful than tobacco cigarettes, it is clear that e-cigarettes are not harmless products,” explains Mandy Hayre, president of the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association (CDHA).

“Since e-cigarettes are not regulated by all levels of government in Canada, some e-cigarette products labeled as nicotine-free have been found to contain nicotine,” Hayre continues. “Other ingredients that have been found in e-cigarettes include formaldehyde, carcinogenic compounds, and vapour containing heavy metals. Moreover, the potential harm from second-hand e-cigarette vapour remains unknown.”

The Need for Research and Regulation

The e-cigarette industry, of course, is quick to promote the use of e-cigarettes as a reasonable harm-reduction alternative for chronic tobacco users and those utilizing smoking cessation aids. Unfortunately, these claims are yet to be supported by hard evidence.

Without high-quality studies that provide conclusive evidence on the health effects of e-cigarette use, it’s difficult to justify continued, unregulated use, especially amongst minors and young adults. Most dental hygienists in Canada will suggest a number of other solutions to help an individual quit smoking before recommending e-cigarettes.

There are a number of cessation treatments backed by conclusive evidence, and a dental hygienist can also arrange for behavioural support to aid efforts to kick a smoking habit. Until more is known about the health impacts of e-cigarettes, their widespread use requires stricter regulation.

The CDHA is comprised of more than 26,800 registered dental hygienists throughout Canada. The organization gives the needs and concerns of this important public health profession a strong, collective voice. Read the CDHA’s position statement and fact sheet on e-cigarettes today!

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Posted by: DSR
Thursday, October 1, 2015
Tag: Dental
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