It’s no longer a surprise to anyone to hear that tobacco use is dangerous for your health. But recent legislation could compromise the FDA’s ability to continue to communicate that important public health information to possible consumers of tobacco products.
New Act Exempts Dangerous Tobacco Products
The American Dental Association is one of 43 organizations urging Congress to stand in opposition to H.R. 1136, the Food and Drug Administration Deeming Authority Clarification Act of 2017.
Thanks to the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which was introduced in 2007, the FDA is required to review new tobacco products to determine their health risks, addictiveness, and appeal to young people. H.R. 1136 was introduced to counter some of the effects of that 2007 act by exempting e-cigarettes, cigars, and some other tobacco products from that review.
Considering that there has been a recent dramatic rise in e-cigarette use among kids as young as middle school age, the act’s opponents argue that removing this essential review process from e-cigarette products is putting American youth at risk. This is especially troubling considering how many e-cigarette flavors are clearly targeted at children, such as cotton candy, gummy bear, and fruit punch.
While e-cigarettes are less dangerous than traditional cigarettes, that doesn’t mean they’re healthy: Research indicates that “vaping” may increase risk of cardiovascular problems, respiratory problems, and may share some of traditional cigarettes’ carcinogenic properties. And beyond the cardiovascular risks, e-cigarette fires and explosions can cause serious injuries sometimes requiring extensive reconstructive dentistry to repair.
Tobacco is Still a Major Health Risk
Despite decades of public health efforts to educate on the health risks of tobacco, tobacco use is still killing people every day.
According to the CDC, smoking harms nearly every organ in the body. Between cancer, heart disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, more than 16 million Americans are living with smoking-related diseases at this very moment — and they’re the lucky ones. Smoking is responsible for nearly 450,000 deaths a year. And smoking isn’t just harming those who are doing the puffing: Over 40,000 deaths a year are attributable to secondhand smoke.
Oral Health Suffers with Tobacco Use
Tobacco use is one of the worst habits for your oral health. Smoking can increase your risk of gum disease, a disease that in turn significantly increases your risk of heart disease, breast cancer, and kidney disease. Not to mention once you have gum disease, continuing to smoke during treatment makes that treatment less effective. This is because smoking compromises the body’s ability to fight infection, and even limits blood vessel growth, which can slow your healing process. People who smoke are also three times as likely to lose teeth.
And while smoking is not the sole cause of oral cancer, it is responsible for the vast majority of cases. People who use smokeless tobacco products are at even higher risk of oral cancer — those who use snuff or chewing tobacco area shocking 50 times more likely to develop oral cancer than people who don’t use tobacco.
Studies on the magnitude of the tobacco problem have concluded that dentists need to do more to discourage their patients from tobacco use. If you need a dentist in Blue Bell, PA, call us at (610) 272-0828 or request an appointment online. If you’re struggling with tobacco use, having your dentist on your side may be able to help encourage you to quit.