Electronic Cigarettes: More Dangerous Than the Industry Wants You to Think?

They’re touted as the safer, friendlier alternative to conventional smoking, a tool to help smokers quit: electronic cigarette sales are rising rapidly, but what’s not keeping pace with them is regulatory investigation. In fact, as those numbers climb and manufacturers scramble to come up with their own versions of the product to take advantage of the demand, no one really seems to know what’s really in the vapor produced by electronic cigarettes, whether they might cause health problems for users and bystanders, and how they should best be regulated to protect users as well as the general public.

One thing is for sure: despite what manufacturers may claim, the primary byproduct of electronic cigarettes isn’t a “harmless water vapor.” In an interview with Scientific American, Stanton Glantz noted a number of nasties that users inhaled directly, including acetaldehyde, nickel and cadmium. Like their conventional counterparts, electronic cigarettes also produce secondhand smoke, inhaled by both the user and people around her. Every puff comes with a load of formaldehyde, toluene and, of course, nicotine.

After spending years fighting to get these chemicals out of indoor environments and away from children, the United States seems poised to reintroduce them through the unregulated sale and use of electronic cigarettes. While they might offer a way for nicotine addicts to get their fix (and some researchers note that e-cigs themselves could be addictive), it’s not necessarily a safe way — for them or anyone else.

The FDA has no regulatory framework in place for handling them. Initially, it attempted to label them as “unapproved drug/device combination products,” arguing for a ban on imports from China in 2008. The decision was fought in court, allowing for the legal sale of electronic cigarettes, but the FDA still couldn’t regulate them. Though it claims to have plans to do so in the future and is undoubtedly conducting research and development behind the scenes, it’s contending with a growing lobby filling with powerful companies that aren’t appreciative of government intervention in their sales.

These firms maintain that their products are healthy alternatives to cigarettes, something researchers doubt given that many smokers use electronic cigarettes in tandem with conventional versions, continuing dangerous habits and never fully switching over. Furthermore, of course, the products contain their own payload of dangerous chemicals, and users may not be aware of them, making the assumption that the product is safe given the marketing language — a grim reminder of the dangers of marketing. Electronic cigarettes also don’t appear to help smokers quit, given data from studies on the subject.

Meanwhile, groups like the American Cancer Society are raising the alarm, asking for more investigation into electronic cigarettes with an eye towards possible regulation. Before any of the claims about electronic cigarettes can be fairly evaluated, it’s clear that nonbiased studies are critical, and such studies need to include comprehensive followthrough. It’s possible that regulators could be making the same mistake with electronic cigarettes that they did with traditional cigarettes, choosing a slow regulatory path in the face of strong evidence indicating serious health risks associated with their use. Dragging regulatory heels could cost lives, and for every month that the FDA delays making a decision on how to proceed, the electronic cigarette lobby, which includes many familiar faces from the tobacco industry, grows stronger.

The agency lies at a crossroads: it can confront the industry head-on and advocate for the health and safety of the public, or it can remained cowed by pressures from industry, its followers among the public, and lawmakers who favor decreased regulation in general when it comes to all industries in the U.S., even when involved in the production of medical devices and components.

Photo credit: Michael Dorausch (on Flickr).


jade owen
jade O.about a year ago


Miriam O.

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Oleg Kobetz
Oleg Kobetz2 years ago

Thank you

Jelena Radovanovic
Past Member 2 years ago

Thank you for the article.

Samioneric Samioneric
Past Member 2 years ago

Your website is for sure worth bookmarking.

Cheryl Erland
Cheryl Erland2 years ago

..cut off.
The American and Canadian Cancer Societies don't want us to know because they would lose funding and donations. The governments don't want us to know because the amount of taxes they'd lose would be huge. So what is it about? It's about what it's always about. Money. Greed. There is no point in being reasonable in our arguments because they know they're lying and the more people they can convince the better. Well, for me, no more. I'm saying no. And I feel hopeful because more people are waking up to the truth all the time - there is evidence of this if you look. Peaceful, active resistance is what it will take. Am I willing to go to prison for my beliefs? I certainly am. I'm a middle aged, Canadian woman and if enough ordinary citizens in the world stand up and say "no more" the game is over. We have the numbers. They know it and they're terrified. That's why everything is getting so much worse so quickly. If we refuse to believe in the massive lie we are been told about how things really are; if we stop feeling afraid - that's the weapon they wield - if we decide there is nothing to be afraid of - and there really isn't if you stop to think about it, then we can create the kind of world we want to live in. It's not my idea but it's a very good one. I'm in.

Cheryl Erland
Cheryl Erland2 years ago

I'm beginning to seriously question the decision making that goes on at Care2.....This article is worse than garbage - it's dangerous. There are going to be people who believe it and don't, therefore, take the life-saving opportunity to finally give up smoking. I smoked for 40 years (I'm 55) and I had come to accept that I was likely not ever going to be smoke free. Vaping has saved my life. We have turned into a population afraid of its own shadow - EVERYTHING must be regulated now. It is utterly ridiculous. And now that I've vented I'm going to write about what I really came here to say.
First - you know what they say; if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's a bloody duck!!!!
I've spent a lot of my time over the past 3 years looking into what is really going on in our world and the various ways the wool has been pulled over our eyes - we're so conditioned to believe the lies that most people don't stop to even question what's assumed to be 'common knowledge' and realize that we are being lied to on a MASSIVE scale. Hitler said "Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it." He knew what he was talking about. If you step back and look at what is going on around e cigs, what makes common sense? Well, we know (if you don't, just Google it, it's not hard to find) that cures for cancer, AIDS and much more have been long known but to bring that information forward would bankrupt Big Pharmaceuticals. The American and Canad

Kathy Lucas
Kathy Lucas2 years ago

Keep it up!! You have done the nice job having provided the latest information.

electronic cigarette brands

Alison A.
Alison A.3 years ago

Surely the easiest thing to do is regulate them. Decide what they should contain, whack it on the box and let everyone get on with their lives..... it is quite simple.

I didn't want to give up the act of smoking, but after 20 years of smoking, I did want to give and alternative a try in August; these e-cigs worked perfectly, occasionally I think I want a cigarette, the worst time is when I get in my car, but a few puffs on this and I am good to go.

My hubby hates smoking and has asthma, when I 'vape' in the same room as him, he can't even smell it and their is no derogatory effect on his asthma.

The EU wants them banned! Yet cigarettes with 4000 dangerous chemicals in them are still on sale and there is no talk of changing that, surely that should be addressed before e-cigs? Or is there too much money being made on cigarettes and the governments didn't get in on the ground floor with these!

Most restaurants ect. have banned 'vaping' in the UK, I find this totally unfair and against my human rights to do something which is (at the moment) perfectly legal; people should mind their own business. The author mentions the three chemicals that come with every puff, 3 'ay? Not 4000?

Regulate them, tax them and let me get on with my life in peace!

Cat B.
CB C.3 years ago

I apologize for not being able to check this topic sooner, but I do want to share that the chest pain and shakes I had is not related at all to the e-cigarettes. Seems I didn't quit smoking soon enough and now have heart disease that I am trying to reverse. The e-cigs are a great way for smokers to quit, but you have to be diligent and do not change flavors from that of tobacco. Only use them where you would normally smoke a cigarette, and keep at it! It took me 4 months and then I just stopped using the e-cigs altogether. It was sooo easy!

Just don't get hooked into their hype...and yes, e-cigs are better than smoking cigarettes. Still not good for you, but a step to better health. I have to say, day 3 of not smoking regular cigs, I realized I have been a walking ashtray most my life, even though I tried hard to not smoke around others. How embarrassing and humbling to realize...and now I can smell a smoker a mile away. It really is disgusting. Please keep trying to quit...it will happen! I have never felt better in my entire life!