This year’s Golden Globe Awards, which showed popular actors Julia Louis Dreyfus and Leonardo DiCaprio puffing on e-cigarettes, has drawn the ire of lawmakers in Washington, CBS News reports. E-cigarettes or vaporized cigarettes are becoming the new “cool thing.” In addition, they are not regulated and they contain no health warnings. This disturbing trend that glamorizes smoking was reaffirmed during NBC’s broadcast of the Golden Globes Sunday night.
Seducing the Younger Generation?
“You’re killing the next generation of fans in your movies,” said Senator Richard Durbin a Democrat from Illinois, on the U.S. Senate floor. Four senators, including Durbin, fired off angry letters to NBC and to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which hands out the awards. Senator Richard Blumenthal said e-cigarettes are definitely “a gateway to smoking.” He also expressed concern that Big Tobacco companies are buying up e-cigarette manufacturers and are pumping millions into ad campaigns for these products because they see this as a way to draw young people.
The Effects of E-Cigs
The potential health effects of these vaporizers or electronic cigarettes are still murky. The jury is still out on how harmful these devices are. But, let’s consider what we know so far. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a lab analysis of electronic cigarette samples found that they contain carcinogens and toxic chemicals such as diethylene glycol, an ingredient used in antifreeze. E-cigarettes are basically battery-operated devices that contain cartridges filled with nicotine, flavor and other chemicals. The electronic cigarette turns nicotine, which is highly addictive, and other chemicals into a vapor that is inhaled by the user.
These products are marketed, advertised and sold to young people and are readily available online and in shopping malls. They are also available in different flavors such as cherry, chocolate, mint and bubble gum, which could appeal to young people.
The Need for Regulation
The legislators’ anger with regard to e-cigarettes is justified. However, immediate action must be taken to regulate these relatively new products. Safety advocates and health officials have worked for decades trying to make cigarettes “uncool” and creating awareness about the dangers of smoking. Now, these e-cigarettes are taking the place of traditional cigarettes. They are being marketed as “the alternative” to those who want to quit smoking. But how safe are these so-called alternatives. We’re just beginning to learn the facts – and they’re not pretty.