The Legal Examiner Mark The Legal Examiner Mark The Legal Examiner Mark search twitter facebook feed linkedin instagram google-plus avvo phone envelope checkmark mail-reply spinner error close
Skip to main content

Because so little is known regarding what is in electronic cigarettes, regulators are growing more and more concerned due to the increase in popularity of the product over the past several years. Preliminary tests carried out by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) show e-cigarettes, which are battery operated tubes that deliver a nicotine vapor instead of burned tobacco smoke, contain some of the dangerous carcinogens that traditional cigarettes do, but at lower levels. The samples also revealed quality-control issues with some of the products, which are marketed the exact same, having wildly variable amounts of nicotine and one of the products even having poison (diethylene glycol) in it; this indicates that regulators do not know enough about how the product is being produced. Due to the study’s findings, the FDA Commissioner has warned consumers to beware.

Since e-cigarettes, or "e-cigs", are being subject to FDA approval as a drug or medical device, they are illegal until they are cleared. Smoking Everywhere, one of the two major importers of e-cigarettes, has since sued the FDA, claiming it should not be regulated like a drug but as a tobacco product. While the company engages in this legal battle, however, its sales representatives at one point claimed the product had been approved and deemed safe by the FDA. An attorney for the company claims this misinformation has since been corrected.

Michael Siegel, a Boston University School of Public Health Professor, says the FDA’s newest consumer warning is misleading because the agency found very low levels of carcinogens in e-cigarettes. Siegel claims these levels were comparable to what is present in nicotine-replacement products, which are currently on the market. He also states the levels of carcinogens in the e-cigarettes are about 1,400 times lower than in Marlboros. The FDA deputy commissioner, however, says it is premature to claim e-cigarettes are safe until regulators know what is in them. If the product is meant to help some Americans stop smoking, it is the manufacturers obligation to present that data to the FDA.

Many anti-smoking advocates are putting pressure on the FDA to officially ban e-cigarettes from the U.S. They claim these and similar products should be taken off the market because the lack of testing to determine the hazardous ingredients in the product would lead to smokers becoming guinea pigs. The public health community is also split over the issue regarding whether to advocate smokers switch to a less harmful product even if they are not completely safe. Though the government has blocked the product from the border, it has not shut down domestic retailers. This means consumers can find the $40 to $100 e-cigarette starter kit in mall kiosks, travel centers and online. So far, the e-cigarettes have also been banned in Canada, Australia, Mexico and Israel.

13 Comments

  1. Gravatar for Paul Reynolds

    This is not about Health... it's just another excuse for US protectionist trade policy....

    PROTECT the US Tobacco & Pharmaceutical industries by banning the only effective Tobacco Alternative that really works...

    PROTECT US Tech industries that earlier FAILED to recognise and develop the potential of these products.

    This Site proposes "Promoting Safety, Protecting Rights"

    If YOU want to promote SAFETY... then promote effective Tobacco replacement products that the FDA results now PROVE do NOT contain the 4000 carcinogens found in Tobacco AND LESS HARMFUL CHEMICALS THAN LICENSED PHARMACEUTICAL PRODUCTS

    If YOU want to protect RIGHTS.... then protect the rights of adults to choose their own lifestyles. Anti Smoking Laws were predicated on the need to protect others from "Secondary Smoke".

    We can now clearly see that this argument was as false as the WMD excuse for invading Iraq. Secondary Smoke was NEVER THE REAL AGENDA.

    "Finger-Waggers" and others who think that the whole world needs to be regulated and controlled please note.... Your actions show that you are desperate to make youself feel superior by finding fault in others... Be guided by... "Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone".

    If YOU feel offended by being branded a "Finger-Wagger" then remember the ancient priciple of "common-law" which goes..."If the cap fits..then wear it !!!"

  2. Gravatar for ChrisSugar

    This is a load of hooey. The FDA used a nicotrol inhaler as the test control. If they compared an e-cig with a normal cig, the results would've been totally different. I smoked for more than 10 years & now Ive completely stopped smoking normal cigarettes. I can breathe easier & no longer cough. Ive tried patches, nicotine gum, you name it! Im glad that I purchased a good unit. I started with disposable units that were cheap but they provided no throat hit, I thought, is that it? So I did my research. After researching online for various companies & prices, I found Freshsmoking[.]com Theyve got the best prices, their starter kits start at only $45 & the rest of their accessories are much cheaper than anywhere else Ive seen. The best part about it is that their units provide a strong throat hit and a great battery & cartridge life. Ive had my unit now for more than a month & its still going strong! Also, their customer service was great & I received my order in just 2 days. I highly recommend them!

  3. Gravatar for Angela Stobart

    Personally, I would rather deal with the "very low levels of carcinogens in e-cigarettes", than with the toxic amounts produced by the tobacco related products.

    Seriously now ... the tobacco products are known to cause cancer and they contribute to a host of other deadly health concerns, but for decades they have remained available to the consumer. The solution was simple enough ... just slap a warning label on them and they're good to go.

    Personally, I'm absolutely astounded that the FDA, the Governments and the Health agencies around the world have now joined forces to keep this product from the consumer. Not in a million years will anyone ever convince me that smoking cigarettes is the safer alternative, to the electronic cigarette and I want, expect and demand a right to choose which product I utilize and my choice is the electronic cigarette.

    I believe the concern shown now at this late date regarding this relatively new product stems from the fact that it is the only product to hit the marketplace ... that may well be a viable replacement for the tobacco products.

    Perhaps they didn't realize how well received the product would be and now, due to the overwhelming positive response from the public ... something had to be done. They are after all, encroaching on a 3 Trillion dollar a year business that the Governments worldwide profit from. I believe that it boils down to dollars and cents and if they're not seeing the dollars ... then it makes no sense.

    For years now, with the exception of the tobacco products themselves, every other product that contains nicotine is exempt from the tobacco regulations and are considered a non-prescription over the counter nicotine replacement product.

    Realistically, the electronic cigarette should be categorized the same way ... or are you now going to tell me that all products that contain "niotine" such as Zyban, Nicoderm, Champix, Nicorette ... lozenges, gums, pills, patches and "vaporizers" are tobacco products as well.

    By the way ... carcinogens are formed in direct relation to temperature. Tobacco products burn between 350 - 800 degrees, hence the toxic emissions ... compared to 30-40 degrees by the battery found in the electronic cigarette devices.

    That means, the next time you sear a "rare" steak for dinner ... be afraid ... be very afraid ... you are most likely consuming a product which is now sitting at a similar or higher carcinogenic level. Just to be safe, you better make sure you also stay away from chocolate, beer etc etc etc

    Feel free to stop by my blog if you would like to check into this controversial subject in greater detail smokevsvapor.blogspot.com

  4. Gravatar for Greg Webb

    Mr. Reynols,

    Thank you for the comments. They were insightful. I thought the FDA was concerned about knowing what chemicals were actually in the imported E-cigarettes. As you know, it is sometimes hard to monitor what is being done to a product in another country. I suspect that if the government instituted a "hands-off" policy, and products such as E-cigarettes ended up having deadly chemicals in them, there would be a citizen outcry about the fact that "they" were not doing their respective jobs. I wonder what would happen if someone, unknowingly, thinking a product was safe, consumed it (or smoked it) and then became seriously injured, or worse, because of unkown or undisclosed chemicals?

    Greg

  5. Gravatar for Greg Webb

    Mr. Sugar and Ms. Stobart,

    I think safer alternatives, or options, are important or necessary. But, I would want to be careful that the "cure" is not worse than the ill. I do not profess to know the answer here, but, personally, I would want to know everything harmful that is in the E-cig before I began smoking it (if I smoked, which I do not). Maybe there is enough information out there to make an informed decision.

    Greg

  6. Gravatar for Paul Reynolds

    Re your comment ...

    "...I thought the FDA was concerned about knowing what chemicals were actually in the imported E-cigarettes. As you know, it is sometimes hard to monitor what is being done to a product in another country."

    If the FDA & the US Government are SO concerned about toxins and health then WHY is the US VIGOROUSLY exporting DEATH in the form of cigarettes, KNOWN TO CONTAIN OVER 4000 ACTIVE CARCINOGENS in huge quantities to the Third World ???

    Joel Niztkin, MD, MPH, DPA, FACPM, Chair, Tobacco Control Task Force, American Association of Public Health Physicians wrote......

    “We have every reason to believe the hazard posed by electronic cigarettes would be much lower than 1% of that posed by (tobacco) cigarettes. The testing guidelines in the current tobacco act (circulating through Congress) would represent a ban on electronic cigarettes, (yet) if we get all tobacco smokers to switch from regular cigarettes (to electronic cigarettes), we would eventually reduce the US death toll from more than 400,000 a year to less than 4,000, maybe as low as 400.”

    (http://www.ecassoc.org/resources/quotes/)

    Most INDEPENDENT Scientists and Tobacco Harm Reduction Specialists concur with this view....

    WHY THEN ARE RUMOUR AND FEAR BEING MOBILISED TO TRY TO PREVENT DEVELOPMENT OF THIS TECHNOLOGY ?????

  7. Gravatar for Paul Reynolds

    OPEN LETTER TO Charlottesville.InjuryBoard.com

    Sirs,

    Would you ever consider launching a "Class-Action" by "Would-be Ex-Smokers" whose health is even now being put at risk by the intervention of the FDA to prevent the import of SAFER and (unlike the available Pharmaceutical Products) CREDIBLE ALTERNATIVES to TOBACCO, with the intentention of preventing admitted NICOTINE ADDICTS from switching from TOBACCO PRODUCTS (known to KILL and yet not subject to such restriction) which provide revenue in the form of taxation.

    Paul Reynolds

  8. Gravatar for Paul Reynolds

    More INFORMED comment to be found at .....

    http://www.ecassoc.org/resources/quotes/

    -----------------------------------------------

    Nicotine is probably the second most used drug after caffeine.” Amazingly, no one thinks of caffeine as a harmful drug. Nor should they. “The possible dangers of nicotine are dwarfed by the dangers associated with tobacco. Pure nicotine has not been associated with the risk of cancer.”

    The International Harm Reduction Association

    -----------------------------------------------

    “The standard for lower-risk products for use by current smokers should be the hazard posed by (tobacco) cigarettes, not a pharmaceutical safety standard.”

    Joel Niztkin, MD, MPH, DPA, FACPM, Chair, Tobacco Control Task Force, American Association of Public Health Physicians

    -----------------------------------------------

    “Telling smokers they may not use electronic cigarettes until they’re approved by the FDA is like telling a floundering swimmer not to climb aboard a raft because it might have a leak.”

    Jacob Sullum, senior editor at Reason magazine, nationally syndicated columnist

    and author of the critically-acclaimed book For Your Own Good: The Anti-Smoking Crusade and the Tyranny of Public Health (Free Press, 1998).

    -----------------------------------------------

    “If the FDA would act within its own historical context it should recognize that when faced with an epidemic it should be focusing on the greatest possible reduction in deaths rather than looking at alternatives to cigarettes as if cigarettes themselves did not exist. Had the FDA acted like this in 1938 we’d likely still not have antibiotics, and had they acted this way during the various vaccination campaigns smallpox would likely still be around.”

    David Sweanor, BA, JD, Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa

    -----------------------------------------------

    “Huge disparities and inconsistencies exist between the tobacco and nicotine product regulations. Combustible tobacco products are the least regulated and nicotine products are the most highly regulated. Given the huge differences in the proven or likely hazards of these products to individual and public health, this represents

    a substantial and illogical regulatory imbalance. The regulation of nicotine products needs to be radically overhauled to encourage the use of less harmful products.”

    Royal College of Physicians

  9. Gravatar for George

    The real truth is that the government is not receiving any tax revenue from the sale of e-cigarettes. They just raised the Federal tax (SCHIP) again on all tobacco April 1st. Funding of tons of government programs (and waste) has been on the backs of smokers for years.

    They ban smoking in public which creates less smoking which in turn causes them to increase taxes on the remaining smokers to keep government fat.

    Now we have an alternative:

    * Practically eliminates the 1000's of hazardous toxins found in traditional smoking.

    * Costs less to use

    * No Secondhand smoke

    * Can be used in bars, restaurants, and other places where tradtional smoking is banned.

    * No fire risk. Some states have "fire safety" cigarettes which taste terrible. e-cigs have no flame or smoke and are not a fire hazard.

    There are plenty of other good reasons why the e-cigarette is a better alternative. But its a better alternative to the SMOKERS, not the government who wants their cut.

    No folks, its not about safety. Its tax revenue.

  10. Gravatar for Greg Webb

    George,

    I had not thought of the tax revenue side of the equation. You think the federal government is intentionally prohibiting the importation of E-cigs because it thinks it will bite into cigarette tax revenue? I always thought, perhaps erroneously, that the federal and state governments spent a lot of money paying for health care that resulted from smoking tobacco products. It seems to me that, if E-cigs are safer than cigarettes, there would be a net savings to the government in the long run because it would have to pay out less in medical care for smoking-related illnesses. Just a theory, though.

    Greg

Comments are closed.

Of Interest