“The recent lung illness outbreak has alarmed physicians and the broader public health community and shined a light on the fact that we have very little evidence about the short- and long-term health consequences of e-cigarettes and vaping products,” said Patrice Harris, the association’s president, in a statement.
“It’s simple—we must keep nicotine products out of the hands of young people and that’s why we are calling for an immediate ban on all e-cigarette and vaping products from the market. With the number of young people using e-cigarettes spiking it is not only critical that there is research into nicotine addiction treatments for this population, but it is imperative that we continue efforts to prevent youth from ever using nicotine.”
The association’s recent meeting saw physicians, residents, and medical students vote to adopt policies they hope will prevent young people from becoming addicted to nicotine.
The policies include urgently advocating for action at the federal or state levels, including banning the sale and distribution of all vaping and e-cigarette products unless they’re approved by the Food and Drug Administration for helping people stop using nicotine.
The association also wants to create diagnostic codes for e-cigarette and vaping linked illnesses such as pulmonary toxicity, collaborate with people in healthcare to convince pharmacies to stop selling tobacco products, and call for the study of ways to get people off nicotine dependence.
Flavored vaping products containing nicotine are seen in a store in Los Angeles, Calif. on Sept. 17, 2019. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)
The association said in a press release that it has pushed for a number of seminal anti-tobacco efforts over the past half-century, including prohibiting smoking on airplanes and calling on tobacco companies to stop targeting children in advertising campaigns.
“Since declaring e-cigarette use and vaping an urgent public health epidemic in 2018, the AMA has pushed for more stringent policies to help protect our nation’s young people from the harmful effects of tobacco and nicotine use. For decades we have led the public health fight to combat the harmful effects of tobacco products, and we will continue to support policies and regulations aimed at preventing another generation from becoming dependent on nicotine,” said Dr. Harris in the statement.
The group’s statement drew some opposition with its focus on vaping products over cigarettes.
“I would be 100 percent with the AMA if they were seeking a ban on all tobacco products that are smoked, including e-cigarettes,” Jonathan Foulds, a tobacco addiction specialist at Penn State University, told CBS.
“But right now, nicotine electronic cigarettes are competing with and replacing the most harmful legal product in this country.”
Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, which promotes vaping, added that the focus of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention probe into the recent health outbreak linked to vaping “is not store-bought nicotine vaping products, but illicit contaminated THC oil cartridges sold by drug dealers.”
“It would be a mistake for adult smokers and their families to listen to these misguided prohibitionists, as the evidence continues to indicate that adult smokers who switch to nicotine vaping products greatly improve their health,” Conley said.