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E Cigarettes, Are They Safe?

Have you ever heard of an E Cigarette?  I mean I know I am hardly cutting edge of cool but these are news to me.

I was walking through the Burlington Mall the other day when I noticed a kiosk that was selling E Cigarettes.  Having never seen these before I went home and looked them up.  It turns out they are an electronic smoking device or an electronic cigarette which is also known as E-Cigarette.  This E Cigarette is non flammable and through technology claims it can provide the smoker a real smoking experience without the fire, flame, tobacco, tar, carbon monoxide, or ash that you would see in real cigarettes.

So at first I thought, wow, a real looking cigarette without all the bad stuff.  Then I kept reading.

The smoker will still get nicotine.  They are very upfront about that.  Apparently the device turns nicotine into a vapor so you can inhale it.  One must remember, however, that nicotine is highly addictive.

What I don’t like about this product is they make the nicotine packet come in different flavors including bubblegum, chocolate, apple and cherry.  While they claim that they are not marketing this to children, this rubs me the wrong way.  Can you just see an adult ordering bubble gum flavored nicotine?

The CEO of one of these companies claims that they are instructing vendors to follow all state laws when they sell them, yet when I went online and attempted to purchase these devices, I was never asked for my age.

Just recently, the FDA weighed in and as you may have surmised they are not too warm on this idea either.  The FDA analyzed the ingredients in a small sample of cartridges from two brands of electronic cigarettes marketed by U.S. companies: NJOY, of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Florida-based Smoking Everywhere.

In one sample, analyses detected diethylene glycol, an antifreeze component. In several other samples, analysts found carcinogens.  What bothered the FDA was the lack of quality control in these packets and they feel that there could be a safety issue due to this lack of control.

Bottom line if one of your children comes home with this E Cigarette, please do not be fooled into thinking that are not getting nicotine with them, they most assuredly are.

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • LaceyUnderall July 24, 2009, 10:43 am

    Dr. Kevin – Good post.

    One thing that I would strongly suggest is that you take a look at Dr. Siegel’s blog http://tobaccoanalysis.blogspot.com as he has a thorough report on the actual findings from the FDA.

    A few things that are very interesting to note are:
    1. The control was either not studied OR the findings were withheld.
    2. The amounts the FDA found were in such minimal amounts that even reports of the current NRT’s have these in them.
    3. The report does find that the electronic cigarette is in fact, far safer than tobacco cigarettes.
    4. The report analysis was available for their May 5th press conference, to which they canceled. If the ecig is so dangerous, why would the FDA not release those findings immediately?
    5. The FDA is currently being sued by the two companies they tested.
    6. Other studies have been done, that have been peer-reviewed OR several labs did analysis and then were compared for the final results, and all of these studies debunk the FDA’s un-reviewed, internally done study.

    All very very interesting points.

    Now, while I can completely sympathize that the flavor issue is definitely an interesting one, what concerns me is that just this week, the FDA approved to flavors of nicotine lozenges for the Pharmaceutical industry. So either the pharmaceutical industry is trying to market their products to adults, or they are directly marketing their cinnamon lozenges and fruit chill gum to hook a new generation on nicotine.

  • drkevdc July 24, 2009, 9:43 pm

    Lacey, thank you for the interesting and informative comment.

    What struck me as odd about the sale of the E-cig was how they were going about it. The kiosk that I observed did not display any of the warnings about age as you will find in your typical grocery store. The sales woman was encouraging everyone to take a look at the product and there were definitely kids that did not look near of age checking things out.

    As far as the pharmaceutical industry trying to market their products to children, nothing that BigPharma does in their pursuit to get all of us taking something would surprise me. If I have to answer one more, “Dad what is priapism” question I am going to scream.

  • LaceyUnderall July 24, 2009, 10:05 pm

    Dr. Kevin,

    You are absolutely right regarding the kiosks in malls. There was little oversight and training done by the parent company to ensure that age was properly checked and that cessation and health claims were not made.

    However, this is not true of all suppliers. Many are very committed to offering an alternative, tobacco harm reduction product to the proper consumer group. What is most interesting is that in all of my conversations with suppliers regarding their customer base, the average age is 40-45 years old and their customers were at one time, 1-4 pack a day smokers who report that they have now, left tobacco cigarettes behind completely.

    This is a huge step forward in the fight against one of the worst health issues our nation faces and it will be a crying shame if it is removed, even for one month!

    Thank you for taking the time to read what I have written and for taking a moment to check out Dr. Siegel’s blog.

    I would also like to direct you to the Electronic Cigarette Association’s (ECA) website so you can further study what is happening in this new industry. http://www.ecassoc.org. The ECA is always looking for open minded health professionals who can express the positives of this interesting and new product.

  • Joe Phillips January 26, 2010, 7:09 pm

    I would say that an ecigarette is safe. It still contains nicotine, but it is healthier than tobacco. There are other good points,there cheaper and do not bother other around you. So I think the best option would be to quit, if you can’t smoke an e-cigarette.

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