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UMass Lowell Researcher: E-cigarette ban needed ‘immediately’

Sep 13, 2019 10:54AM

A ban on flavored e-cigarettes amid an outbreak of a mysterious lung disease that has killed six and sickened hundreds of others in the U.S. needs to happen “immediately,” but is just one piece of the puzzle to regulate the vaping industry, according to a UMass Lowell public health expert available for interviews on the issue.
 
President Trump yesterday called for a ban on all non-tobacco flavored e-cigarettes from store shelves within the next 30 days. The action comes as federal health officials investigate the link between vaping and a severe lung illness sickening e-cigarette users and what officials say is an epidemic of the habit among young people. While the cause of the illness remains unknown, officials are eyeing chemical exposure as a possible culprit.
 
“The flavorings used in e-cigarettes are considered safe by the Federal Drug Administration for use in foods. But when they are inhaled, many can be strong respiratory irritants, similar to what we found out with artificial butter flavorings used in microwave popcorn that the FDA said were safe but turned out to decimate the lungs of workers inhaling the fumes of the flavorings while manufacturing the product,” said Joel Tickner, an authority on how toxic chemicals in everyday products can adversely affect adults and children.
 
Tickner, an international authority on chemicals policy, believes officials need to draw up a comprehensive strategy to regulate the vaping industry.
 
“There needs a systematic public health approach. Dealing with flavorings is simply a Band-Aid to a bigger issue, including flavorings, addiction and closing loopholes in FDA policy,” he said
 
Tickner is an internationally respected expert on safer alternatives who co-founded the Green Chemistry & Commerce Council, a collaborative of leaders in industry, research and government with members including Amazon, Apple and Nike committed to finding more sustainable alternatives to chemicals used in their products and across supply chains.
 
He investigates and advances innovative ways to manufacture and use safer products, both as a researcher in the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production and co-director of the Toxics Use Reduction Institute at UMass Lowell, where he is a professor of public health.
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