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Nurse Barbara Kilgalen, a participant in the Virginia Commonwealth University study, demonstrates e-cigarette use. The study indicates that electronic cigarettes epically fail at delivering nicotine to the body.  (Source: Paul Courson/CNN)
Despite popularity, the questions about e-cigarettes may not be all they are cracked up to be

Last year we wrote on the health risks associated with electronic cigarettes, commonly known as "e-cigarettes".  The devices have been billed as "healthy living" products and as a tool to help smokers quit their addiction.  Advocates say that since electronic cigarettes simply give smokers a vapor with nicotine and no burned chemicals, that they are relatively safe.

Those claims may be inaccurate, though.  Last March, the Food and Drug Administration banned imports of the devices, which are largely manufactured in China.  The FDA wants to investigate health concerns.  Namely, the FDA found that chemical formulas for the smoky vapor often contained dangerous components; at least one manufacturer used diethylene glycol as a key ingredient, a chemical commonly used in antifreeze and toxic to humans.

Now a new study adds to the doubts about e-cigarettes, indicating that they are about as successful at delivering nicotine as puffing on an unlit cigarette.  Dr. Thomas Eissenberg at the Virginia Commonwealth University led the study.  The study involved 16 participants and extensively monitored nicotine levels in the body and heart rates when using both traditional and electronic cigarettes.

The study, the first study of e-cigarettes to be conducted by U.S. doctors, found that almost no nicotine was actually delivered by the devices and instead users were actually inhaling a nicotine-devoid toxic vapor of compounds like diethylene glycol or nitrosamines, a family of cancer-causing nitrogen compounds.

Describes Dr. Eissenberg, "They are as effective at nicotine delivery as puffing on an unlit cigarette.  These e-cigs do not deliver nicotine.  Ten puffs from either of these electronic cigarettes with a 16 mg nicotine cartridge delivered little to no nicotine."

The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute and will soon be published in the journal Tobacco Control, a product of the British Medical Journal Group.

Nicotine has some beneficial health effects, particularly for the mentally ill, so it is disappointing that e-cigarettes appear unable to deliver the compound.

Despite the mounting criticisms, many e-cigarette users stand by the product.  Jimi Jackson, a former tobacco smoker in Richmond, Virginia, who sells electronic cigarettes, comments, "I smoked 37 years, and when I found them, I was, like, 'Thank, you Jesus.'"

The FDA is currently being sued by a company called "Smoking Everywhere" that imports e-cigarettes from China.  The company wants the FDA to lift the ban on e-cigarette imports.  The company's court filings reveal just how popular the devices are -- the company sold 600,000 e-cigarettes in a year via the company's network of 120 distributors in the United States. 

Why should the FDA lift its ban?  According to Washington lawyer Kip Schwartz, representing "Smoking Everywhere", "We are on the verge of going out of business, which is why we are suing the FDA in U.S. District Court."

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RE: More scare tactics?
By THELEGACYMAN on 2/10/2010 9:16:25 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds like some one is pro tobacco cigarettes over E-Cigs. He must be Camel Joe . I just stopped smoking tobacco cigs a month ago ans now just e-cigs. I went from a pack a day to 30 drops of 11mg nic. e-juice. One month I went from 18mg to 11mg. I feel great. Most important all the expensive stop smoking aids only left me smoking 50% more until it leveled back off to a pack a day. 20yrs of a pack a day and no hope of stopping. E-cigs do it for me. Say what you will but at the least I know I can stop smoking e-cigs where I had a 20yr lost battle with tobacco cigs.
Taxes: Yes the states and gov will loose rev. but the public will be healthier. e-cigs are still a bit new and they will get better with time. what were the first tobacco cigs like and what were the health effects.

RE: More scare tactics?
By nbourbaki on 2/11/2010 4:39:06 PM , Rating: 2
It's always easy to tax the other guy. Since the majority of Americans are now non-smokers, it's far too easy to fill a budget shortfall by taxing the minority. While this might be unpopular, I also don't support state lotteries. I mean really, the state is promoting a get rich scheme. If everyone paid their share of the tax burden, instead of taxing one group disproportionally, maybe we could have a frank discussion about the overall tax burden.

I'm with you on the e-cigs. I've tried the patches and Chanix and neither of them helped in the least. Going on a month on e-cigs and I don't even want a cigarette.

"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home

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