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A Cigarette By Any Other Name: Safety Concerns in NH

PHOTO: Electronic cigarettes, hookah pens, e-hookahs and vape pipes are growing in popularity in New Hampshire, but experts say there isnít enough science about how safe they are. Credit: Michael Dorausch, Wikimedia Commons.
PHOTO: Electronic cigarettes, hookah pens, e-hookahs and vape pipes are growing in popularity in New Hampshire, but experts say there isnít enough science about how safe they are. Credit: Michael Dorausch, Wikimedia Commons.
March 10, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. - Electronic cigarettes - also known as e-hookahs, hookah pens and vape pipes - are growing in popularity in New Hampshire. Celebrities in advertisements tout them as a safer alternative to smoking. But experts say there isn't enough science to back up those claims. It's estimated that more than 250 different e-cigarette brands are for sale in the U.S. today.

Since they are unregulated, manufacturers are not being held accountable for potential health risks, said Ed Miller, vice president, American Lung Association. The good news is, he said, that New Hampshire lawmakers have taken action.

"The Granite state is a leader, actually, in this issue," Miller said. "A couple of years ago, it got out ahead of many of the other states and banned the sale of e-cigarettes to minors - included it as a tobacco product - so that's a great step forward."

The Food and Drug Administration has proposed a rule that would allow the agency to regulate e-cigarettes as it does tobacco products.

A tobacco cigarette contains thousands of chemicals, dozens of which are carcinogenic. While e-cigarettes may be considered less harmful, Miller warned there is little research about the effects of the chemicals in them.

"There's glycol, which is a substance that they use in some of these," he explained, "but there's no ingredient label on these, and they're manufactured, many of them, all over the world."

According to Miller, one area that still needs work in New Hampshire is regulation of smoke-free products to make sure that they are regulated and licensed just like any other tobacco product.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH