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Is San Francisco’s vaping ban backed by science?

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San Francisco has decided to ban the sale of e-cigarettes in 2020, hoping to curb a surge in vaping among adolescents. But is the policy backed up by the available evidence?

– How harmful is vaping? –

Unlike tobacco cigarettes, e-cigarettes do not “burn.” The devices, which have been available in the US since 2006, work instead by heating up a liquid that then turns into vapor and is inhaled.

Because of this, e-cigarette users don’t get exposed to the estimated 7,0000 chemical constituents present in combustible cigarettes, and vaping is generally believed to be safer than smoking.

The liquids do, however, contain nicotine, which has been studied for decades and is known to be highly addictive.

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They also contain a variety of other constituents classed as “potentially harmful” according to a 2018 study compiled by the US National Academy of Sciences requested by Congress.

Though many of the flavorings in e-liquids are recognized as safe, their toxicity was studied for oral consumption in food and not inhalation, it said.

There is also “substantial evidence” that the vapor contains traces of metals, either from the coil used to heat the liquid, or other parts of the device.

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Another potential red flag, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the presence of diacetyl, which is used to add a butter flavoring to microwave popcorn but has been linked to a serious but relatively rare lung disease.

For the time being, there is “no available evidence” to show whether or not e-cigarettes use is associated with cancer, said the NAS report.

But there’s a caveat. While experts generally believe vaping is a less toxic alternative to smoking, “the implications for long-term effects on morbidity and mortality are not yet clear,” and would require decades of more data and studies to know for certain.

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– Can it help smokers quit? –

Market leading maker Juul’s response to the San Francisco ban was that it would “drive former adult smokers who successfully switched to vapor products back to deadly cigarettes.”

Are they right about that?

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A study published in February in the New England Journal of Medicine on a group of 886 patients in Britain’s National Health Service found the claim to be true.

The one-year abstinence rate among e-cigarette users was 18 percent, compared to 9.9 percent among a group who used other nicotine replacement products like gum or patches.

The conversions are not, however, all in one direction.

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A slew of recent studies have found that, among adolescents, e-cigarettes effectively provide a gateway toward full-fledged smoking.

Authorities are worried that decades of declining smoking rates among this demographic could go up in smoke as a result of these devices.

– Regulation versus prohibition –

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The vaping industry is adamant it doesn’t want to see underage people using its products and more must be done to prevent their sale. E-cigarettes are already illegal to sell in the US to people under 18 or 21, depending on the state.

But, the sector argues, bans are a poor policy choice because they deprive adults addicted to smoking of a valuable tool.

“To deprive those smokers from access to e-cigarettes, which we know are substantially less harmful, I think is a terrible decision, ” Neil McKeganey, of the UK-based Center for Substance Use Research based, which is partly funded by the industry, told AFP.

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The irony is that the sale of alcohol, cigarettes and cannabis will remain legal in San Francisco for those over 21.

The risks associated with all three are well studied. For alcohol, these include liver disease, high blood pressure and heart disease, numerous cancers. For cigarettes, heart disease, stroke, lung and various other cancers.

Numerous papers meanwhile have explored the risks of cannabis particularly on the juvenile brain.

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In place of bans, makers want to see tighter regulation.

There is a lot of work to be done: an analysis of Californian vendors published Monday in the medical journal JAMA found that almost half of tobacco and vape shops did not ID young customers looking to buy vape products.


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Babies born near oil and gas wells are up to 70% more likely to have congenital heart defects, new study shows

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Researchers at the University of Colorado studied pregnant women who are among the 17 million Americans living within a mile from an active oil or gas well

Proximity to oil and gas sites makes pregnant mothers up to 70 percent more likely to give birth to a baby with congenital heart defects, according to a new study.

Led by Dr. Lisa McKenzie at the University of Colorado, researchers found that the chemicals released from oil and gas wells can have serious and potentially fatal effects on babies born to mothers who live within a mile of an active well site—as about 17 million Americans do.

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Mueller testimony ‘is going to be a devastating day for the president’: former White House lawyer

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The eyes of the nation will be on Capitol Hill on Wednesday when former special counsel Robert Mueller publicly testifies before Congress.

Mueller, who was a federal prosecutor, top DOJ official, and director of the FBI before serving as special counsel, is scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning and the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday afternoon.

"As Democrats prepare for the arrival of special counsel Robert Mueller on Capitol Hill next week, their plans for his day of wall-to-wall testimony is becoming clearer: if Donald Trump were anyone but the president, he would be charged with the crimes Mueller uncovered," MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace reported on Friday.

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WATCH: Trump blurts out a massive lie about Dem congresswomen — after being asked about Melania

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President Donald Trump on Friday falsely accused Democratic congresswomen of using the phrase "evil Jews."

Trump ignited a firestorm over the weekend after saying that the congresswomen of color should "go back" to their countries of origin. At a rally on Wednesday, his supporters chanted "send her back" after Trump attacked one of them, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).

But on Friday, Trump insisted the congresswomen were the real racists.

"You know what is racist to me? When somebody goes out and says the horrible things about our country, the people of our country, that are anti-Semitic, that hate everybody, that speak with scorn and hate -- that to me is really a very dangerous thing," Trump said.

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