They are billed as affordable and safe ways to enjoy the experience of smoking without the health risks. Every day thousands of customers across the country "light up" e-cigarettes, a new product that is taking the online world by storm. E-cigarettes consist of cartridges filled with nicotine and other chemicals, spiced with flavors such as chocolate, cola or bubble gum. The "cigarette" typically lights up as it vaporizes the nicotine-chemical cocktail, which it delivers as steam to the user.
As sales for the devices, market as a healthy-living product, have skyrocketed, the Food and Drug Administration became concerned. Exactly how "healthy" were these cigarette substitutes?
The FDA began testing them and it quickly discovered that the e-cigarettes, like their smoking counterparts, are hazardous to the health. The samples from various manufacturers contained dangerous carcinogens. Further, at least one manufacturer's mix contained diethylene glycol -- a chemical used in antifreeze, and a toxin to humans.
Dr. Jonathan Samet, director of the Institute for Global Health at the University of Southern California comments, "We know very little about these devices, but to say they are healthy -- that's highly doubtful."
Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, commissioner of the FDA adds, "The FDA is concerned about the safety of these products and how they are marketed to the public."
One of the largest manufacturers of the devices, Florida-based Smoking Everywhere has remained mum on the reports. The devices do appear, thus-far to be legal as a combination drug-device product under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
Dr. Jonathan Winickoff, chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics Tobacco Consortium urges people to think of the children, commenting, "It is very important that parents let their children know these are not safe and to make recommendations, or even enforce rules that they not be used."
Dr. Matthew McKenna, director of the Office of Smoking and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention adds, "Children who use these products may also be using other tobacco products. It's a good idea to make sure the child is aware of the dangers of tobacco in products in general."