FRANKFORT—Limited research to date on electronic cigarettes—or e-cigarettes—show they are “quite harmful,” University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center Director Dr. Mark Evers told a legislative panel today.
Dr. Evers told the state legislative Tobacco Settlement Agreement Fund Oversight Committee that current research on e-cigarettes indicates the devices may be “every bit as dangerous” as smoking tobacco. He commented on the safety of the products after being questioned about them by Sen. Robin Webb, D-Grayson.
E-cigarettes, which resemble tobacco-filled cigarettes, are devices that deliver a vaporized solution which may or may not include nicotine or flavoring.
“I really think this is the new ploy by the companies to say this is a safe alternative which by the research…it’s not,” Evers told the panel. “The research that’s coming out—and, grant you, it’s been limited research to date—has shown that e-cigarettes are quite harmful.”
Webb said some local jails are providing the devices to inmates at cost, but that she can’t find “valid research” on them. She wanted to know the impact of the chemicals used in e-cigarettes on human health.
“We are the custodians of these inmates,” she told fellow lawmakers.
Research on e-cigarettes is currently underway, including research at the University of Kentucky where Dr. Ellen Hahn, Ph.D. is studying smoking substitutes like e-cigarettes in cooperation with the Kentucky Lung Cancer Research (KLCR) Program, explained Evers. Hahn’s research is funded in part by a grant through the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and NIH, Evers said.
Evers spoke to the committee on the latest developments in the Kentucky Lung Cancer Research Program along with fellow researcher, University of Louisville Brown Cancer Center Director Dr. Donald Miller. Both men are on the KLCR Program Governance Board.
The KLCR Program receives funding from Kentucky’s share of a 1998 settlement between 46 states and the nation’s largest tobacco companies. The settlement allowed states to recoup Medicaid dollars spent on smoking-related illnesses, including lung cancer.
Kentucky currently has one of the highest adult smoking rates in the nation at 29 percent, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
Kentucky’s lung cancer incidence rate was 96.9 cases of lung and bronchus cancer per 100,000 people in 2009, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.