Former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona, who stressed the danger of secondhand smoke and support a ban on all tobacco products, joins the board of directors for NJOY, the leading electronic cigarette companies in the country, a move that may increase the legitimacy of electronic cigarettes as a viable alternative to traditional cigarettes.
Senior public health official in the country under President George W. Bush from 2002 to 2006 will advise the Arizona-based company in the field of public health and regulatory issues. He will also supervise their studies with battery-operated devices that heat a liquid nicotine solution and create steam, which breathes users. Flagship private company NJOY King Product is the best selling electronic cigarettes.
Carmona, 63, is president of the health and welfare nonprofit Canyon Ranch Institute in Tucson and is a professor of public health at the University of Arizona.
In 2006, he published a comprehensive report, which concluded that breathing any amount of someone else’s tobacco smoke harms nonsmokers, and played an important role in smoking bans across the country. In testimony to Congress Committee in 2003, Carmona was critical about the possibility of a safe alternative to smoking tobacco.
“Definitely there is an argument that can be done to reduce the damage, but, obviously, more research needs to be done,” Carmona told the Associated Press. “I probably will [us] the biggest critic …. I still look at his work as a doctor of people, and I will look at the science…. If we can find an alternative that gave us harm reduction as people refuse to nicotine, I’m happy to participate in that science, and see if we can do it. “
There are two approaches to regulating tobacco use: one that says there is no safe way to use tobacco and pushes people to quit above all. Others support safer alternatives like smokeless tobacco and other nicotine delivery systems like gum or even electronic cigarettes, and methods to improve overall health.
Devotees insist e-cigarettes address both addiction and the behavioral aspects of smoking. Smokers get the nicotine without the more than 4,000 substances in cigarettes. And they get to keep a cigarette while puffing in and out something that looks like smoke. More than 45 million Americans smoke cigarettes, and about half of smokers try to quit each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“When he came on board, it is very difficult for anti-smoking people who consider themselves health campaigns to simply speak out against electronic cigarettes. They have to deal with the fact that one of the leaders of the community not only supports e-cigarettes, but is willing to be board of directors of the largest electronic cigarette company, “said David Sweanor, a Canadian law professor and tobacco expert who consults with companies and others on industry issues.
In an interview with AP, NJOY General Manager Craig Weiss said of Carmona to its board “is a very powerful step forward” in its mission to “stale cigarettes.”
The company does not disclose how much was to be compensated Carmona his new role.
The market of electronic cigarettes has grown to thousands of users in 2006 to several million worldwide.
Some of the largest tobacco companies in the country have moved to capture some of the growing revenue in the electronic cigarette market. Reynolds American, the second-largest U.S. cigarette manufacturer, began limited distribution of its first electronic cigarette brand Vuse. Lorillard Tobacco, the third-largest tobacco company in the country, has acquired the electronic cigarette maker Blu Ecigs last April. Some e-cigarettes are made to look like a cigarette with a tiny light on the tip that glows like the real thing.
E-cigarettes can be more regulated in the near future. Recent CDC study found that one in five smokers reported using an electronic cigarette, the evidence, and the agency says that more control is needed. And the Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve the regulatory body for the electronic cigarette later in the year, to treat them in the same way as traditional cigarettes and other tobacco products.
“We still have a one in five people in America smoke; … there is still a lot of work to do,” said Carmona. “Dismiss [electronic cigarettes] and do not even think … would be a disservice to the public who are looking for alternatives.”