Thursday, July 23, 2009

FDA tests indicate that e-cigarettes pose a health risk

In the latest sign that e-cigarettes may not be safe, testing results released by the FDA on Wednesday indicate that e-cigarettes may pose many of the risks of conventional smoking.

E-cigarettes contain nicotine-filled cartridges, often flavored, and rely on a battery to turn the nicotine into a vapor, which is inhaled by the user. Manufactured almost exclusively overseas, e-cigarettes are shipped to the United States and sold in shopping malls and online. Companies like NJOY and Smoking Anywhere market their products as alternative sources of nicotine in smoke-free environments and as a "safer" alternative to conventional tobacco use.

But e-cigarettes have raised serious red flags for the FDA.

"It looks like a cigarette, and it's used like a cigarette," Dr. Jonathan Winickoff, chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics' tobacco consortium, said during an FDA-sponsored news conference. "It's marketed as a cigarette, and thus has the potential to normalize and cue smoking behavior."

Concerns from health officials are twofold:

First, officials worry that e-cigarettes, which do not give off the smell or smoke of a conventional cigarette, may still pose many of the same serious health risks of cigarettes. The FDA analysis found carcinogens and an antifreeze component in e-cigarette vapors.

Second, the FDA has echoed the worries of the World Health Organization that the use of e-cigarettes may lead non-smokers, and especially young people, to eventually use conventional cigarettes. E-cigarettes contain nicotine, which remains highly-addictive in vapor form. The majority of e-cigarettes also include flavoring (including chocolate, mint, and bubblegum), which FDA officials believe to be aimed at young people.

"Past experience suggests that these products may be particularly appealing to young people," Winickoff said. "E-cigarettes might encourage children, preteens and young adults to take their first step toward smoking cigarettes."

For more information on the FDA's testing, see the related U.S. News article.

1 comment:

Jason said...
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