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FDA: Electronic cigarettes are a no-no

July 22, 2009 |  2:35 pm

Cigarette Here's an item that you shouldn't include in your ever-growing arsenal of electronic devices, including cellphones, iPods, PDAs, GPS trackers and laptops: the e-cigarette. The Food and Drug Administration today released an analysis of 19 varieties of electronic cigarettes that says that half contained nitrosamines (the same carcinogen found in real cigarettes) and that many contained diethylene glycol, the poisonous ingredient in antifreeze. Some that claimed to have no nicotine were found to have low levels of the drug.

E-cigarettes are promoted by their manufacturers as safer than traditional cigarettes because they do not burn tobacco. Instead, a lithium battery in the cigarette-shaped device heats a solution of nicotine in propylene glycol, producing a fine mist that can be inhaled to deliver nicotine directly to the lungs. An LED glows red at the tip and they even emit puffs of white smoke similar to that seen in stage shows. The devices are available in more than 4,000 retail outlets nationwide, as well as on many websites, with a starting cost of $40 to $70. Over the last year, sales have grown from about $10 million to $100 million, according to the Electronic Cigarette Assn., the industry's trade group. They also come in a variety of flavors, including chocolate, mint and apple, which make them appealing to children and adolescents.

Most of the e-cigarettes are produced in China, where they have become very popular. The varieties tested by FDA, however, were produced by Smoking Everywhere, a Florida company, and Njoy Cigarettes of Scottsdale, Ariz. In a telephone news conference, agency officials said "quality control processes used to manufacture these products are inconsistent or nonexistent."

They have become very controversial. Some countries, like Australia, have banned them because their health risks are unknown. Action on Smoking and Health, an anti-tobacco group headed by activist John Banzhaf, has petitioned the FDA to regulate the products and Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.) has called on the agency to remove them from the market immediately, a call that has been echoed by the American Heart Assn., the American Lung Assn. and other groups.

Even though the e-cigarettes are marketed as healthy, critics charge that the delivery of nicotine directly to the lungs speeds its passage to the brain, enhancing the drug's addictive properties. Critics also said the devices are appealing to the young and could serve as a learning aid to promote smoking of actual cigarettes. Stop-smoking experts say the devices are not useful for ending cigarette addiction because they do nothing to interrupt the hand-to-mouth behavior that is an integral part of the habit.

For its part, the FDA has classified e-cigarettes as a drug delivery device, which subjects them to regulation and requires proof of safety. The agency has been examining and detaining the product at the border, halting more than 50 shipments, but has not taken any steps to remove it from the U.S. market. The FDA has been sued by manufacturers that say the agency has no jurisdiction over the device because it is not marketed as a stop-smoking aid.

The discovery of carcinogens and toxins in at least two products may encourage the FDA to step up its actions against manufacturers. The agency, however, has not said whether it will move against the makers of the tested products.

"Electronic cigarettes should be absolutely avoided because they clearly have toxic elements," said Dr. Jonathan Whiteson, a pulmonologist at New York University Langone Medical Center. "It is proven now that electronic cigarettes contain toxic elements. Electronic cigarettes play no role in smoking cessation and don't add to a healthier lifestyle."

-- Thomas H. Maugh II

Photo: The inventor of an electronic cigarette, Hon Lik, smokes his invention in Beiijng earlier this year.

Credit: AFP/Getty Images

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Comments (114)

It is a no no because it isn't the bee's honey? How many products are there- I can name at least 2 dozen companies, 4 models of atomizers and countless varities of liquid. It appeals to kids???? Apple flavors,menthol,soda,etc.. are FLAVORS! I'm not inhaling ass flavor because your kids happen to like menthol candies. Big f you on that one.

It is the difference between masturbation and walking over to phillip morris hooker incorporated and analizing an aids infested 1 toothed sheman who may also be a leper.

Smokers gotta get off- ecig jerks are the better choice. Now that I don't have my beer goggle on I'm not going any where near your goverment approved toxic shemans. I'll just stay home with my ecig and pleasure myself with or w/o ur consent. Much better to be an addict than a dying one as well.

Yeah right! and what about Cigarette then. The only proof i have is myself and many of my friends and family who love e-cigarette.

I've never ever been able to stop smoking until e-cigarette. My gum looks better, i can breath better, i can smell better, i can eat better and the list goes on. What other proof do i need.

If e-cigarette is a no-no. then why the real cigarette that can stain tissue paper real dark and has more than 4000 hazardous chemicals, is still out on the market?

To FDA, Stop lying to people for your own benefit, this is not 1950. We, as intelligent being actually evolved a lot since then.

The e-cigarette does not contain ingredients found in antifreeze. Yes, they do contain diethylene glycol, but that is not actually found in anti-freeze. It's close molecular cousin, ethylene glycol, is found in anti-freeze. Diethylene glycol is still toxic, but not near as toxic as ethylene glycol. The The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations has a set tollerance on how much diethylene glycol is allowed to be in your every day foods, and the fda has not said how much was found in the electronic cigarettes.

"They also come in a variety of flavors, including chocolate, mint and apple, which make them appealing to children and adolescents."


Has the FDA made any strides to help the electronic cigarette market? Seems like the FDA is just helping out Big Tobacco and the big drug manufacturers, like Pfizer, so I have to keep smoking regular cigarettes or keep buying $50.00 worth of smoking cessation aids at a time that has not worked for me yet.

I know I could quit nicotine altogether, but what if I can't?

FDA, should I keep smoking cigarettes from Big Tobacco?

FDA, should I keep giving money to drug companies for something that does not work for me?

Or, will you help me make the electronic cigarette safer for me to use?

I doubt the FDA will answer me.

Gee, I guess the pesticides that you allow some states to spray in office buildings without posting a warning (which I believe is the main cause of plenty of auto-immune illnesses, like MS, Parkinson's, Lupus, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and numerous lymphomas and other organ cancers) is fine as long as the Chemical makers continue to pour money into Washington D.C. pockets and "finance" the medical research labs, right??? But hey, you make sure you focus your caring efforts on the e-cigs. We all know what this is all about. Follow the money trail.

Doesn't this JUST FIGURE ?!!!!!!


The End.

Posted by: Peter | July 22, 2009 at 08:48 PM

Uh, don't we all die anyway? Run a thousand miles, eat a salad, still die. Don't see where people quitting smoking brings immortality.

I've read a lot of these previous comments and some of them are just people who have used the product, others are people who are narrow-minded non-smokers, and yet others are people who are highly intelligent and have provided contrary evidence against this article. The post that cites the own FDA's research results saying that they actually found that most of the tested cartridges contained no harmful chemicals (other than the nicotine and nicotine derivatives) is the real meat against this article.

Ok, so smoking is a bad habit.. yes, we all agree with that.. even smokers, like myself agree with that. If you were addicted to smoking, for those of you who aren't, you might actually understand what e-Cigs are about. And the tired old, "Just Say No" arguement from non-smokers is....well.. old.. and tired. You people will never understand what it means to be addicted to cigarettes. You will never understand how hard it is to quit, even with your psychology degrees and life experiences that are "similar". Fact is, if you've never suffered from a true addiction, then you will never fully comprehend addiction.

e-Cigs are not safe.. they contain a highly addictive substance called Nicotine. They are not anti-habit forming.. doing anything repetitively for extended periods of time is going to form a habit. However e-Cigs do appear to be, at this stage, a cheaper and health-IER alternative to the problem of smoking. No.. they're not perfect, smoking anything is still bad, nicotine is still addictive and puffing on an e-Cig may simply prolong the intake of nicotine. Just pull your heads out of the sand for a moment and consider the alternative. That's all these e-Cigs are.. an alternative. If you can't see that, then you are truly ignorant, regardless of which side of the coin you belong to.

O.K., so what's the solution? I have been smoking for 35 years and the part that's the hardest is the "hand to mouth." Any suggestions? Mary Dogger

I am a smoker of 23 years now. I started at age 16 and I have been a USA citizen since birth.
I decided to try a free trial of one of the electronic cigarettes because of the advertisers claims of " No carcinogens ". The advertiser also implied that you could use this project inside of anywhere ( buisiness, airport...etc", well guess what? It is a lie, I don't like being told by the FDA that this product isn't safe any more then anyone else; did I mention that I AM a smoker of 23 YEARS!!! The truth is, consuming ANTI-FREEZE isn't SAFE!! For an advertiser to tell you that consuming anti-freeze IS SAFE is a LIE. If the advertisers would simply state that it is a smoking alternative, and leave out the FREAKING word SAFE, then the FDA would have to move on, I can smoke my E-cigarette publically, unless of course the FDA wants to ban AUTOMOBILES, I mean guess where a PUBLIC BUS gets its heat from, heres a hint, the antifreeze laden radiator.
Ok, e-cigarettes are not correctly termed SAFE by any dictionary. Call them a publicly acceptable level of risk, like the Sun, or cleaning fluid, or insulation, yadda yadda.
I for one don't like the idea of ignoring the FDA, they do a job to keep everything on the up and up, just remember these guys are scientists that are doing the research. When it comes to accuracy when someone makes a claim, they are going to use the definition of the term.

The FDA is trippin!!! over 4000 chemicals in a cigarette and its legal less than 1% of a carcinogen in 1 out of 18 cartridges which were made in china and they totally freak out. And the two companies cartridges that they reviewed were the two companies that were sueing them. The FDA is bankrupt they need money, so they say lets go make a big deal out of something so that we get money to test this new product while in fact they probabbly paying out old debts.

Roy from Atwater - I clicked one of your links and found this interesting information:

"The author of the study suggested smoking might affect the oxidation process of the brain neurons. Oxidation is the process in which cells obtain energy from oxygen. The oxygen is needed by all cells for proper function. The brain requires a considerable amount of oxygen to keep the cells functioning and healthy. The research seems to suggest that the elements in cigarette tobacco clog the lungs and prevent enough oxygen from entering the system. If it is true that cigarettes cause less oxygen to reach the brain, it could cause the premature death of necessary brain cells, lowering the smoker’s ability to think."

Given this information, doesn't it stand to reason that if smokers stop clogging up their lungs they can arrest the process that is killing their brain cells?

Two things that the FDA did NOT find in their analysis of electronic cigarette cartridges were Tar and Carbon Monoxide. Tar clogs the lungs. Carbon monoxide displaces oxygen in the blood stream, depriving cells of oxygen.

So people who have switched to e-cigarettes are doing something that is not only good for their lungs, but potentially good for their brain.

Tracy Harmon - Are they 100% safe? I can't guarantee you that. But I can share this with you.

I smoked tobacco cigarettes for 45 years. I stopped smoking them and began using an electronic cigarette on 3/27/2009. I used to hear myself wheezing when I rolled over in bed at night. It's gone. I used to cough up junk every morning. That has stopped. I used to be "borderline hypertensive." My blood pressure is down to 117/79.

You can read the comments left by over 13,000 people who signed the Electronic Cigarette Petition

You will see that many people have seen similar health improvements since they switched to this alternative. Quite a few mention doctor-verified health improvements.

The FDA advises us to use their "proven" products instead of e-cigarettes. Been there. Done that. I tried gum, lozenges, Wellbutrin, hypnosis, Nicotine Anonymous, and the patch coupled with the American Lung Association Freedom From Smoking® class, to no avail. In the Petition, you will see much the same story in the comments.

These are not children using the product. These are decades-long smokers who tried everything they could think of to quit. This was the first thing that actually allowed us to stop smoking tobacco cigarettes, and we know we are healthier now.

If you are looking for more information with regards to the electronic cigarette please feel free to stop in at my website. There are easily available reports on the tobacco specific impurities etc included in the FDA test findings and I also have provided information on safety reports provided by a few of the electronic cigarette manufacturers.

This product is sold as a safer alternative to the tobacco products, which it is ... in order for it to be as dangerous as the tobacco products, you would have to add another 500 odd ingredients and smoke it since the majority of the 4000 toxic elements are formed only when burned. I purchased one myself and no longer smoke regular cigarettes ... as a matter of fact, I rarely use the electronic cigarette now either.

Educate yourself with regards to this product before condemning it. The tobacco products will never get any safer for public use, so it's time for a change.

What a completely biased report. Are E-Cigs safe? Most probably not. Are they worlds safer than 'normal' cigarettes? DEFINITELY!! I've been vaping (slang for smoking e-Cigs) for 3 weeks. I've had maybe 1 pack of real cigarettes in that time frame. I was a pack-a-day guy. Again, I know these aren't 100% completely safe, but I personally feel 100% better physically since I've started e-Cigs.

If the FDA wishes to study this product... Fine. However, please run a side-by-side comparison between this product and REAL cigarettes. I think the result will be a 1st Round Knockout for the E-Cig as being the far, far, far safer choice. To ban it would be ludicrous and prove that the FDA truly does not have the public safety at heart. Is there a logical argument against E-Cigs? You bet. Is there an even greater case to be made against real cigarettes? ABSOLUTELY! If the FDA bans E-Cigs, then they absolutely MUST ban real cigs on the same grounds. No ifs, ands, or buts here folks. Little tip as to why they are pursuing a ban... follow the money!

And to those calling us smokers/vapers idiots for doing so, I'll put my IQ up against yours any day. I know it's a bad habit, but I enjoy smoking... I enjoy the habit. I don't eat McDonalds, but I don't call others idiots for doing so... they too know it's not the healthiest of meals. We all have our flaws and bad habits, mine is smoking... well, now vaping.

In a nutshell it is my humble opinion that E-Cigs are far safer than real ones... safer for the person using the device and safer for anyone around them. Until it's PROVEN than they are more dangerous than real cigarettes, then the idiotic opposition needs to shut up and let me vape in peace.

Sincerely, Greg Alexander.

If regular cig produce 4000 + chems
my question then is this
please name me the chems that are produced by ecigs

For $200 dollars I should be able to buy an e cig that does not use polyethylene glycol. For $200 dollars it should have a metered dose of steam with more flavorfull ingredients and of course, nicotine. It could also use some capsacin or a small irritant. It seems like the only controversy surrounding this is the polyethylene glycol.

I am a smoker of over 20 years. The invention of the E-Cigarette is a miracle to me. I have been to the emergency room on numerous occasions for lung related problems. I will probably die from lung cancer without the E-Cigarette. I have tried the nicotine patch, inhaler, lozenges, gum and all. None of them worked because they lack what the E-Cigarettes provide. They recently added a new chemical to traditional cigarettes to make them fire proof in order to prevent forest fires. They didn't consider people like me. I had my tonsils removed a few years ago and the surgery left lesions in my larynx that never healed. This new chemical they added causes severe pain and dis-orientation to me. Before you vote for or sign the Pact Act 2009 here are some things you should consider.

E-Cigarettes contain no tar.
E-Cigarettes produce no carbon monoxide (they vaporize the E-liquid producing steam).
E-Cigarettes have only 4 chemicals.
Traditional cigarettes contain tar.
Traditional cigarettes produce carbon monoxide.
Traditional cigarettes contain over 100 chemicals.
Carbon monoxide is known to be harmful and cause cancer.
Tar clogs the air sacks of the lungs.
Lung Cancer is the #1 leading cause of premature death in the United States.

If the "Pact Act 2009" is passed it will make it illegal for tobacco and tobacco products to be sent though the mail. The nicotine found in the e-liquid we
use in our electronic cigarettes comes from tobacco. I am a smoker for 20 years and I'm telling you if this is passed people are going to die! I ask you to look at this closely and think hard! What is Genocide? Genocide is the planned killing of a group of people. I can assure you this WILL kill a group of people. If you saw a person in pain and dying would you refuse to give them something to help them?

Wake up Oboma and USA Government remember unfair taxes start wars! You are turning your people against you!

Well I have smoke cigarettes off and on for the last 10 years and have decided to try the new electronic device. I think that it seems like a good alternative to smoking real cigarettes. I actually tried one at the local mall today and it was good. I still got my nicotine fix with the same sensation of smoke. I ordered some electronic cigarettes from this website Well I hope it gives me the opportunity to stop. I will keep you guys posted.

The FDA has only one reason to dislike the electronic cigarette- their funded by the classic cigarette. like discovered by FDA itself, the E-cigarette contains a quantity of propylene glycol equals to 5% of what normal cigarette contains, this propylene glycol is found also in bacon, sausages & beer, looks different now isn't it?! read this:

I think the government is just working with the Tobacco companies and don't want to lose profit! People aren't saying, "THESE ARE HEALTHY! SO SMOKE THEM!!" they are saying, "These aren't AS BAD as SMOKING tobacco... So if you really want/have to smoke, this would infact be a HEALTHIER alternative, not a HEALTHY alternative." These things are directed more towards people who are already smoking tobacco, and just want a, again, HEALTHIER NOT HEALTHY, way to do the act of inhaling and exhaling! God, you people are retarded... seriously...


The FDA's authority to regulate e cigs is questionable. In fact they are being sued in District Court right now.

"Electronic cigarettes should be absolutely avoided because they clearly have toxic elements,"

I definitely agree, but not in the way the author intended. I think if you don't smoke you shouldn't start. If you don't smoke you shouldn't consider electronic cigarettes either. But if you are an addicted smoker who can't quit standard cigarettes and all the toxins added by big tobacco that's a different story. There are too many benefits to at least supplementing your habit with an e-cigarette.

I dont get why the heck everyone is so afraid of electronic cigarettes. How could they possibly be worse than a traditional cigarette? My theory is the big tobacco companies are bribing the FDA to shut this new product down. This will put them out of business no doubt about it!

This is a scam, the FDA is trying to kill Americans...They have listed one chemical found in 19 electronic cigarette products (of the hundreds or thousands) that is nitrosamines, a chemical in cigarettes, so they want to ban it? What about the other 4,000 cancer causing agents in cigarettes? I do NOT see the FDA trying to ban regular cigarettes. If you ask me, electronic cigarettes are still sounding a HELL of a lot safer than a traditional cigarette. Of course this product is going to be appealing to kids, everything is, everything that they see their parents doing, traditional cigarettes, drinking, i do NOT see bans on these products. I have an electronic cigarette and i see absolutely nothing wrong with it. I'm 18 years old and have been smoking for three years...well until I bought my electronic cigarette, havnt had one since. My lungs feel cleaner, my body doesnt feel bogged down by nasty cigarette smoke, me and millions of other people feel the same, so I ask you, what is so wrong with that? What is so wrong with a true, healthier product than traditional cigarettes, or hooka, or cigars, or even chewing tobacco.

"Electronic cigarettes should be absolutely avoided because they clearly have toxic elements," said Dr. Jonathan Whiteson, a pulmonologist at New York University Langone Medical Center. "It is proven now that electronic cigarettes contain toxic elements. Electronic cigarettes play no role in smoking cessation and don't add to a healthier lifestyle."

-- and a real cigarette does not?! moron...



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