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    E-cigarettes and the ob/gyn: Key safety information for prenatal counseling

     

    Among the products now available in retail outlets and online are electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), Snus, and the hookah. Dissolvable strips, sticks, and candies impregnated with ground tobacco are available in some markets. These products allow the addicted smoker to satisfy the craving for nicotine when and where cigarette smoking is not allowed.

    Marketing campaigns on the web and by celebrities suggest that alternative nicotine delivery devices are safer for the user because, in most cases, the combustion inherent in tobacco products such as cigarettes—and the associated health impact of tars and chemicals in the smoke—is absent.

    What information do pregnant patients need regarding these new nicotine products and their safety?

    Obstetric providers should be prepared to emphasize 4 important messages:

    --These products all contain nicotine, which by itself poses risk in pregnancy.

    --These products have not been proven to be effective for smoking cessation, despite advertisements by the companies to the contrary.

    --The content of e-cigarettes and dissolvables is currently not regulated by the FDA.

    --These products all contain flavorings or other additives with unknown health effects.

     

    Sharon T. Phelan, MD
    Dr. Phelan is a Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.
    Jeanne Mahoney, RN, BSN
    Ms. Mahoney is Director, the Providers Partnership Project, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Washington, DC.

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