Why Isn’t the FDA Regulating E-Cigarettes?

When public smoking died off one bar and restaurant at a time, public smokers were left with two options: stay home and smoke or go out and abstain.

It didn’t take long for entrepreneurs to figure out how to get around that problem.

E-cigarettes entered the market originally as a tool that was supposed to help smokers stop smoking by allowing them to cut back on nicotine slowly or remove nicotine all together while still providing the feel of smoking. Rather than tobacco, the gadget produces a vapor for the user to inhale, saving those around him or her from being harmed by second hand smoke.

Because of these facts, proponents tend to tout them as harmless. However, not everyone agrees. A recent article in the New York Times cites a growing danger tied to accidental poisonings from the liquid used to refill the contraptions, noting that the liquid is toxic, unregulated, unexamined and almost endlessly available to anyone who seeks it.

“[L]ike e-cigarettes, e-liquids are not regulated by federal authorities. They are mixed on factory floors and in the backrooms of shops, and sold legally in stores and online in small bottles that are kept casually around the house for regular refilling of e-cigarettes,” writes Matt Richtel. Richtel then recounts the over 1,300 poisonings reported to the National Poison Data System, of which over one quarter required hospital trips.

A large section of these poisonings involved children, and that’s not surprising. Because there is no regulation of the liquid used, there is no clear understanding of what is in each vial, container or bottle, what the levels of chemicals and nicotine used actually are, or if it is properly labeled and adhering to the standards on the label. For minors, who are smaller than adults, what could be absorbed safely or with minor illness for an adult could cause a child serious damage.

That’s worrisome especially because it appears to be more and more children who are being drawn to these e-cigarettes. According to WebMD, a growing number of teens and younger children are seeking out e-cigarettes, in part because they can be easier to use due to flavoring, some of which even tastes like candy. “The number of middle school and high school students who’d tried the candy-like flavors of e-cigarettes doubled between 2011 and 2012. About 1.78 million U.S. students had tried e-cigarettes as of 2012,” reports WedMD. And despite e-cigarettes allegedly being a way to stop people from smoking, in this case it appears to be leading those new smokers into trying the real, tobacco burning types. “A study published earlier this month shows that middle school and high school students who smoke e-cigarettes also are more likely to smoke tobacco cigarettes. While that doesn’t mean e-cigarettes lead kids to smoke tobacco cigarettes, it does show a strong link between the two habits.”

According to the Today Show’s health report, e-cigarettes do eliminate “more than 60 cancer-causing chemicals found in tobacco smoke.” But in exchange for that benefit, “they do contain toxic ingredients such as diethylene glycol (found in anti-freeze) and propylene glycol (a lung irritant found in fake smoke machines).”

Are e-cigarettes then too dangerous a product to keep on the market? Not necessarily, but one step to making them safer would be to ask the FDA to provide oversight, such as testing to see exactly how harmful they are, the long term effects of ingesting these chemicals, and quality assurance to ensure that the amount of each ingredient is listed on the label, and that the label accurately reflects what is in the liquid purchased.

For some reason, although the FDA has agreed to regulating the product, it hasn’t. Now, it’s time to demand they stop dragging their feet. If a chemical is toxic, isn’t it in everyone’s best interest to know exactly how much of it they are inhaling?

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe2 years ago

I tried an E-cigarette to help me stop smoking!! It worked for awhile, until I read an article about them exploding in someone's face!! That scared me more than smoking the real cigarette!!

Deny Fell
.2 years ago

Fascinating information I haven’t been experienced such information in quite a long time. stillare rda clone

Janice Thompson
Janice Thompson2 years ago

What? We can't pick our own poison? How rude!

Ellen Gaston
Ellen Gaston2 years ago

You can get nicotine-free e-liquid. The FDA and all concerned will bastardize any regulatory maneuver based upon who's pockets get lined the most. Banning something that has not proven to be bad for anybody is freedom-stealing fascist bullshit. I am not aware of any nomenclature categorizing propylene glycol as a "lung irritant." I wonder how many pro pot-smoking propaganda "articles" that Robin Marty has penned, extolling its virtues. Second-hand vapor smells good, but dissipates quickly. I have never been in a "vapor-filled" room. If you are bothered by it, it is because you have been conditioned to, not because it is "hurting" you or so bothersome you can't be around it. You just don't like the IDEA of it. Well guess what? I don't want to see two men sucking face. But thanks to propagandists like Robin Marty, I am now forced to accept gay people sticking their tongues down each other's throats. So YOU need to deal with being "uncomfortable" around vaping instead of discriminating against something you know nothing about.

Yves Decargouet
Yves Decargouet2 years ago

P.S. Propylene glycol is NOT antifreeze! It's an ingredient in asthma inhalers! My wife is a life-long severe asthmatic who has a respiratory crisis at the slightest whiff of cigarette smoke. I 'vape' in her presence with NO harmful effect whatsoever! And, her physicians are enthusiastic about what I do. YOU LIE!!!


I apologize for the 'screw you' comment, but my sentiments remain the same. Whoever you REALLY are, you're detrimental to this site, which is about REAL ISSUES, OF IMPORTANCE TO ALL!

Yves Decargouet
Yves Decargouet2 years ago

And, Lauren S., you're just another fake "concerned citizen", aren't you? Quit hiding behind your phony facade. I know who you really are. All your arguments are the same LIES perpetuated by the vested interests. For REAL FACTS regarding 'e-cigs", check this website:


Withdraw your lying, harmful petition, or debate me. The choice is YOURS, as is, and should be, MINE OWN, to use whatever I CHOOSE to curb my nicotine addiction!

Yves Decargouet
Yves Decargouet2 years ago

I personally challenge you, Robin Marty, to a debate on this subject. I can easily demonstrate what a PHONY you are!!!

Yves Decargouet
Yves Decargouet2 years ago

Screw you, Robin Marty. You're a shill for BIG TOBACCO and BIG PHARMA. MYOB, and get off this site!

Donna F.
Donna F.2 years ago


Marianne B.
MARIA B.2 years ago

e cigs are NOT a harmless vapor. they still contain nicotine. teenagers are now buying these. they are not regulated, and the flavors attract the kids now. they obviously are not the answer.