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The FDA may be proposing regulations on electronic cigarettes in the very near future. “The FDA intends to propose a regulation that would extend the agency’s ‘tobacco-product‘ authorities — which currently only apply to cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco — to other categories of tobacco products that meet the statutory definition of ‘tobacco product,'” said Jenny Haliski, the FDA’s press officer for tobacco-related inquiries.

There are nearly 4 million Americans smoking e-cigarettes, according to the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, and the numbers are growing. But there are unanswered questions about the safety of these e-cigs and how businesses, state and local governments should define – and regulate –  the e-cig.

How safe are e-cigs? The makers of e-cigarettes assure us they are safer than traditional cigarettes and other tobacco products. Thomas Kidlas, co-owner of e-cigarette maker inLife and co-founder of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, argues that less is better. He likes to quote the FDA report that found (only) nine contaminates versus the 11,000 contained in a tobacco cigarettes and noted that the level of toxicity was shown to be far lower than those of tobacco cigarettes. However, in the most widely publicized study into the safety of e-cigarettes, “researchers analyzed two leading brands and concluded the devices did contain trace elements of hazardous compounds, including a chemical which is the main ingredient found in antifreeze.”

A new study published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research shows that e-cigs generate nicotine emissions that can be inhaled by those in close proximity to the smoker. The researchers conducted two studies on three brands of e-cigs to investigate what the devices emitted into the surrounding air. They found that e-cigarettes are a source of second-hand exposure to nicotine, but not of other compounds released when tobacco is burned. And though the nicotine exposure was 10 times less than that from tobacco smoke, more research is needed. Another recent study from New York University researchers reported that e-cig smokers might not be spared such exposures. They inhale more nicotine because they puff more often and tend to breathe in more deeply than regular cigarette smokers. So higher nicotine consumption may be a risk for e-cig smokers.

Both studies suggest there’s much still to be learned about the health risks of e-cigarettes, including their effect on people in the same room with smokers.  And this is creating challenges for states and businesses that have no-smoking policies in place. With the exception of New York City and a few other places, most no-smoking ordinances are worded in a way that exempts e-cigs. Cities and workplaces are grappling with language, seeking legal advice and guidance from the FDA in how to define the e-cigarette.

The FDA needs to determine whether it is appropriate to establish regulations and guidelines for e-cigs.  Its mandate is to protect the health and safety of American citizens.  Are e-cigs a potential health hazard requiring federal regulation?  Time will tell, but what seems apparent is that not all is what it appears to be when it comes to e-cigs.


  1. Gravatar for Darrin Gold

    WHile I appreciate that a few studies were mentioned, I think they do not give the whole story on E-cig research. Here are a few of the studies I have found:



  2. Gravatar for Scott

    the main ingredient found in antifreeze is WATER. throwing around this kind of statement is misleading, especially at a time when real studies are being done to determine (and prove) that electronic cigarettes are safer than tobacco. the main ingredient, proplyne glycol, has been used in various and sundry forms since the 1940's, and has been proven safe for human consumption. it's the main carrier in asthma inhalers, and it's the same chemical used on stage for smoke machines and special effects. while the safest way to vape is indeed not to vape at all, please remember that the electronic cigarette movement is about harm REDUCTION, and nobody in their right mind would consider it 100% safe to inhale anything other than oxygen into their lungs.

    i have been tobacco free for over a year, thanks to the help of electronic cigarettes, and i hope that the regulations put in place will allow me to continue to make what i consider (based on research, both personal and published) a safer alternative.

    we absolutely, positively need to make sure these products are not being sold to children, and any responsible vendor does their best to make sure they sell to adults. i don't think people should be allowed to vape openly in supermarkets or places one wouldn't normally be able to smoke, either. although the second-hand vapor is harmless to others, i don't feel that anybody should be subject to it if they don't choose to be.

    please stop saying things about anti-freeze and embalming fluid, because it just isn't true. more research needs to be done, but it has been proven time and time again that electronic cigarettes are indeed safer than traditional tobacco. i hope science and fact triumphs on this topic.

  3. Gravatar for David Hicks

    Someone has already posted an extensive list of sites where you can find the real truth on Ecigs. Thanks. I just have to say that the author who claims to be an attorney has not researched his brief. Or perhaps discrediting Ecigs is his brief. There are millions of Ex-smokers on Ecigs now, would you rather they return to Tobacco. Ecigs save lives, to make false argument against them is to send more smokers to their death for no reason.

  4. Gravatar for G Willings

    This reporter sounds like he was paid by the big tobacco companies that either want in on the e cig business or the e cig business gone. If you get garbage and OLD information you get garbage, this guy brought up things that were brought up 2 years ago, he needs to find a new job, this one is too hard for him.

  5. Gravatar for ConcernedUsCiizen

    You can't TAX it until you REGULATE it.

    You making money on some product that actually solves a PROBLEM? hmmm.....well need to pay us a pound of flesh....cos you are HARMING sometin'....not sure what it is yet but we got "scientist folk" who will come up with SOMETIN' can betcha life on that....

  6. Gravatar for alina

    I have smokd cigars since 1987 I just stopped smoking. I am using no nicotine electronic devices brand vapor. I like it. Much better than cigars.

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