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FDA Warns Against Electronic Cigarettes

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other health experts are warning consumers about potential health risks associated with electronic cigarettes, also known as “e-cigarettes.”

These battery-operated devices designed to look like and be used in the same manner as conventional cigarettes are sold online and in many shopping malls. The devices generally contain cartridges filled with nicotine, flavor and other chemicals. They turn nicotine, which is highly addictive, and other chemicals into a vapor that is inhaled by the user.

“The FDA is concerned about the safety of these products and how they are marketed to the public,” says Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D., commissioner of food and drugs.

Health experts particularly are concerned about the marketing of e-cigarettes to kids, since the cigarettes are sold without any legal age restrictions and are available in different flavors (such as chocolate, strawberry and mint). In addition, the devices do not contain any health warnings comparable to FDA-approved nicotine replacement products or conventional cigarettes.

Specifically, the FDA is concerned that:

• E-cigarettes can increase nicotine addiction among young people and may lead kids to try other tobacco products, including conventional cigarettes, which are known to cause disease and lead to premature death.

• The products may contain ingredients that are known to be toxic to humans.

• Because clinical studies about the safety and efficacy of these products for their intended use have not been submitted to FDA, consumers currently have no way of knowing 1) whether e-cigarettes are safe for their intended use or 2) about what types or concentrations of potentially harmful chemicals or what dose of nicotine they are inhaling when they use these products.

FDA’s Division of Pharmaceutical Analysis — part of the agency’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research — analyzed the ingredients in a small sample of cartridges from two leading brands of e-cigarette samples. One sample was found to contain diethylene glycol, a toxic chemical used in antifreeze. Several other samples were found to contain carcinogens, including nitrosamines.

Add a Comment2 Comments

Thank you for the article. I see these at the mall every time I go and can't help but wonder what's wrong with them.

As a wife of a smoker, I can't say how frustrated I get when he tries to get help by going to the doctor and asking for something to help him quit smoking. Of course he gets the prescription but he also gets hit with a $150 bill when it is time to pick up the medication. Smoking is the single leading cause of a boat load of illnesses yet they get little to no support. Telling a patient how bad smoking is for them is certainly not going to help anyone quit smoking when they hear it every day. Yes, they need emotional support but many need more than that. To think that our government would rather spend the money on the millions of patients who don't quit and end up on a breathing machine or seriously ill is ridiculous. Yes, treat those who end up on the unfortunate side but help those who are trying to avoid getting there.

November 16, 2009 - 6:56am
EmpowHER Guest

I actually am using a different brand of the E-cigarette. I feel better and I don't smell like tabaco smoke anymore! The whole goal is to quit smoking and this is my first step to quitting. Iv'e heard horror stories about perscription medications as well as the patch. Initially, I was concidering the gum option, but at the price they are, smoking was the finacially savy option for me at the time. Why can't the nicotine gum be the same price as a pack of cigarettes? If the federal government was so concerned about the risks and consiquences of smoking, then why don't they fund Nicorette?

November 13, 2009 - 4:27pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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