According to a preliminary analysis by the FDA, electronic cigarettes contain traces of carcinogens and toxins. These findings contradict electronic cigarette manufacturers’ statements that their products are a safe alternative to tobacco. Manufacturers claim that the battery-powered cigarettes contain nothing more than water vapor, nicotine, and propylene glycol, which is used to create artificial smoke. When heated, the liquid produces a vapor that users inhale.
The FDA analyzed 19 varieties of the cartridges that hold the liquid and two types of cigarettes made by NJoy and Smoking Everywhere. It found that several cartridges contained nitrosamines, tobacco-specific compounds known to cause cancer, and one cartridge from Smoking Everywhere contained diethlyene glycol, a common ingredient in antifreeze. Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, the FDA’s principal commissioner, reports concerns because, while the FDA knows what’s in the cigarettes, it doesn’t know how those ingredients affect the body when inhaled through electronic cigarettes.
The Electronic Cigarette Association said in a statement that the FDA’s testing was too narrow to be reliable and that its members only sell and market their product to adults. CEO of NJoy Jack Ledbetter said a third party had tested its products and pronounced them an appropriate alternative to cigarettes, but he did not release those findings. He said experts would review both NJoy’s tests and the FDA’s.
Dr. Sharfstein said that electronic cigarettes are manufactured in China and subject to little quality control, adding that the study found nicotine levels to vary in cartridges who claimed to have a standard amount and found the drug in cartridges who claimed to be nicotine-free.
The FDA has called the cigarettes electronic drug delivery devices, turning away approximately 50 shipments of them at the border. It would not comment on whether it planned to ban electronic cigarettes, but public health officials are worried that the cherry and bubblegum flavors are enticing to children and may be easy for minors to obtain. Smoking Everywhere filed a lawsuit against the FDA in April, claiming that it did not have jurisdiction to bar electronic cigarettes from entering the U.S.