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Study: Electronic Cigarettes Unsafe

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If you are considering gifting an electronic nicotine delivery device— also known as electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes—this holiday season, there are some things you ought to know before making that all-important purchase. They may not be as safe as you think.

Researchers at the University of California-Riverside evaluated five e-cigarette brands (NJOY, Liberty Stix, Crown Seven (Hydro), Smoke Everywhere (Gold and Platinum) and VapCigs) and found design flaws, lack of adequate labeling, and several quality control and health concerns.

In the study, published in the December 2010 issues of Tobacco Control they concluded e-cigarettes are potentially harmful and urged regulators to consider removing the devices from the market until their safety is adequately evaluated.

E-cigarettes began being marketed in 2008 as a quit-smoking device. Recent U.S. federal and state regulation banning cigarettes from being smoked in some public places and the increased taxes levied on cigarette purchases created a new niche market for e-cigarette manufacturers in the U.S. Globally, e-cigarette sales are climbing with the number of cancer cases in emerging and developing countries.

The electronic devices are popular among people who want the luxury to smoke anywhere. Unlike conventional cigarettes, which burn tobacco, e-cigarettes don’t produce secondhand smoke. Instead vaporized nicotine and other compounds inside the cartridge create an aerosol when heated by the unit, but do not produce the thousands of chemicals and toxins created by tobacco combustion.

As a result, some people believe that e-cigarettes are a safe substitute for conventional cigarettes. However, there are virtually no scientific studies on e-cigarettes and their alleged safety.

Prue Talbot, the director of UC Riverside's Stem Cell Center, said in a statement released by the university, “Our study – one of the first studies to evaluate e-cigarettes – shows that this product has many flaws, which could cause serious public health problems in the future if the flaws go uncorrected.”

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