Electronic cigarettes (a.k.a. e-cigarettes or e-cigs) are battery-operated devices designed to look like and to be used in the same manner as conventional cigarettes. E-cigarettes claim to be a safe alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes. The truth is there is no evidence to back up that claim.
Concerns of the FDA
E-cigarettes are sold without any legal age restrictions and are available in different flavors (such as chocolate, strawberry and mint) which may appeal to young people.
The devices do not contain any health warnings comparable to FDA-approved nicotine replacement products or conventional cigarettes.
Findings of an FDA analysis
One sample was found to contain diethylene glycol, a toxic chemical used in antifreeze. Several other samples were found to contain carcinogens, including nitrosamines.
The Smoking Everywhere Electronic Cigarette cartridges listed as containing no nicotine, in some cases, had small amounts of nicotine present.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating manufacturers' health claims about electronic cigarettes and is deciding whether to ban the nicotine-delivery devices as the agency did with nicotine lollypops and drinks.
The FDA has been examining and detaining shipments of e-cigarettes at the border and has found that the products it has examined thus far meet the definition of a combination drug-device product under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The agency has been challenged regarding its jurisdiction over certain e-cigarettes in a case currently pending in federal district court.
Meanwhile, health care professionals and consumers may report serious adverse events or product quality problems with the use of e-cigarettes to FDA through the MedWatch program, either online or by phone at 1-800-FDA-1088.
For more information regarding the FDA's research of e-cigarettes click here.