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‘Electronic’ cigarettes deemed unsafe, according to the FDA

July 24, 2009 by  

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently revealed that devices that were meant to be safe alternatives to smoking may be harmful to a user’s health.

Electronic cigarettes, also known as ‘e-cigarettes,’mimic actual cigarettes and pump out nicotine, flavors and other chemicals to remind ex-smokers of the taste and feel they miss. However, the cartridges also emit harmful chemicals like diethylene glycol that is commonly found in antifreeze, according to the FDA.

The FDA has not approved these e-cigarettes, yet they are marketed to young people and can be found online and in shopping malls where youth spend time.

In response, Dr. Margaret Hamburg, FDA comissioner, said, "the FDA is concerned about the safety of these products and how they are marketed to the public."

Another study by Wake Forest School of Medicine revealed young people should not be exposed to even more nicotine or cigarette product.

Secondhand smoke exposure has become a problem, with 83 percent of survey participants admitting that they had been around it at least seven days prior.ADNFCR-1961-ID-19279185-ADNFCR

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  • Michael Siegel

    What the FDA did not tell the media or the public is the fact that nicotine replacement products themselves have been found to have detectable levels of tobacco-specific nitrosamines, including 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK) and N’-nitrosonornicotine (NNN). Both of these chemicals are consistently carcinogenic in laboratory animals and are widely recognized as carcinogens present in tobacco products.

    The carcinogen NNK [4-(methylnirosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone] was found to be present at a concentration of 0.008 micrograms per patch in NicoDerm CQ and NNN [N'-nitrosonornicotine] was found to be present at a concentration of 0.002 micrograms per piece in Nicorette.

    I find it to be a joke that the FDA is making a huge deal out of the finding that there may be some small risk associated with electronic cigarettes at the same time it is poised to start approving a product that we know is going to kill more than 400,000 people over the next year. There wasn’t any FDA press conference today about the health risks of cigarettes, smokeless tobacco products, or any of the tobacco products over which the FDA now has jurisdiction. How does that make any sense? And why is the FDA allowing Chantix to remain on the market when we know that it has already killed perhaps hundreds of people?

    Remember, the valid question is not whether or not electronic cigarettes are safe. The question is whether or not electronic cigarettes are much safer than conventional ones. If they are, and if they help keep people off of the known highly toxic cigarette variety, then they could be a huge benefit to the public’s health. We surely wouldn’t want to pull them from the market, forcing vapers to return to the highly toxic conventional cigarettes, when these products may actually be saving their lives.

    If you look at the laboratory data provided by the FDA, you’ll see that what is conspicuously missing is the results of the same exact testing of nicotine replacement products. While a nicotine inhaler was used as a control specimen for the nicotine testing, it was not subjected to testing for carcinogens?

    For further commentary on this issue, please see:

  • Jenn

    well if the government didn’t insist on adding all those chemicals into the tobacco in the first place we wouldn’t be having this discussion. They put them in, they should pay to take them out. Why create more expensive toys and “quick fixes”?

    The FDA approves hundreds of drugs pre year that aren’t beneficial as it is…in fact, some of them are extremely harmful. Then they cut our vitamins and proteins/nutrients intake but give us stuff to kill ourselves with in the long run. Whether or not they approve this toy will not change a dang thing. When someone else is trying to run your life it sucks doesn’t it…why do you think they approved fluoride – makes it easier.

  • http://BobLivingston Ski

    Saftey and security are the last things on the F.D.A.’s mind. They are only an arm of the people who wish to control every aspect of your life. Being unsafe is code for, “someone ain’t gettin their cut” . Soon they will decide that a hefty “sin tax “will make this much much safer.

    • Scott Brown

      Ski, even if a hefty “sin tax” were levied, it would be better than outlawing this alternative to death by lung disease. I read, years ago, a possibly apocryphal story about a drug which was developed which did not cure alcoholism, rather it mimicked alcohol’s effect on the brain…but without deleterious side effects. No hangover, no dead brain cells, no cirrhosis, just drunkenness with no pain. Supposedly the FDA refused to approve it in the US because: “The FDA does not have authority to approve recreational drugs.” Only to outlaw them. Whether that story’s true or not, the same logic could apply here, dooming millions of Americans to illness and death for choosing to “sin.” How outrageous that any of us would seek to cheat in this fashion and think we would be allowed to get away with it!

  • Scott Brown

    I am “vaping” (so named for the harmless water vapor byproduct) as I type. I haven’t lit a cigarette in about two months, nor have I wanted to. I haven’t subjected anyone, including myself and my dog, to the 4000-odd chemicals present every time a cigarette is lit. I have subjected myself, alone, to anything present in the flavored nicotine liquid I use (which may or may not be what the FDA “tested”). No cigarettes, nor the slightest desire for them (and I HAVE been around other smokers, which would normally have driven me wild) in two months. I’ve used tobacco for around 45 years, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, nicotine patches, and nicotine gum. I’ve smoked herbal cigarettes. I’ve gone cold turkey for weeks, even months, then bounced right back to full-time smoking. I am certain beyond any doubt that, with the advent of electronic “cigarettes”, I have finally left a deadly drug delivery system behind me. I will never smoke again…unless this ignorant, unscrupulous woman, Dr. Margaret Hamburg, has her way. Do I know that this person and the organization she represents is ignorant and unscrupulous? Yes, I do. She is in league and in bed with Big Pharma, her reasons for disapproval of e-cigarettes are facile and self-serving and are not based on science. Rather, she and her organization represent vested interests who would prefer that smokers pay criminally high taxes, inordinately high insurance rates, financially ruinous medical treatment fees for heart disease and cancer, and all of the other associated costs of continuing to smoke. Were a cheap and permanent cure for tobacco addiction ever discovered, it would be blackballed by the media, vilified by experts, and outlawed by the FDA. As a child I was told repeatedly by these same interests that smoking was a relaxing, natural, sexy, adult thing to do. They lied. Now they tell me e-cigarettes should be illegal (while tobacco remains legal) because they have not been “tested.” They lie. E-cigarettes have been in use for years in other countries. Had former smokers experienced health problems using them, the minions of Margaret Hamburg would be all over each and every instance they could cite. Let me be the first to state that if the FDA were to give e-cigarettes a clean bill of health, the American public would have reason to be very, very, VERY suspicious. “The FDA is concerned about the safety of these products and how they are marketed to the public…?” Don’t worry your busy little head, Margaret. “E-smokers” did not invite your concern. Please take our tax dollars and concern yourself with stuff like Vioxx, Aspartame, Viagra, MSG, GMO, untested vaccines and a few hundred other things. We don’t need you.

    • http://yahoo gary

      well,said,Scott…i too,have successfully stopped smoking,after 38 years,and have been wondering how long it would take this “intrusive-government’,of ours to stick their controllign noses into yet,another of our freedoms. they just can’t stand it that we quit paying tobacco taxes which they had counted on,so they must demonize these untill they can figure out a way of taxing them too!!!.just more proof of this “out-of-control,worthless socialist corrupt thugs in washington!!!” think i’ll smoke another one!!

  • Joe S.

    The FDA is in the middle of a lawsuit with Njoy and Smoke Everywhere. There are many, many more e-cig companies out there. The FDA tested only 19 of those two companies’ nicotine cartridges. The found very, very minor traces of nitrosamines and they wouldn’t publish at what level they found them. Now here’s the real kicker — the FDA did their study 3 months ago and if there was a serious health risk why didn’t they take all the e-cig products off the market 3 months ago…here’s why, the FDA is creating a smear campaign because they are in the middle of a lawsuit. Dr Michael Siegel explains it very well in his response above.
    I personally do not trust an organization like the FDA that has no checks or balances. They are the ones that permit new drugs to enter the market and they are the same ones that remove it after it kills people…does anyone else see the conflict of interest here.
    I am not a smoke but smokers should have an alternative that provides them their nicotine in the fashion they would like to receive it and the e-cig does that for them and it doesn’t have the 4,000 chemicals of which 43 are known carcinogens found in a tobacco cigarette. I think the FDA is just a little disingenuous.

  • Johnny Blaze

    In response to the FDA’s findings, certain companies (such as ours) are having their e-liquid produced here in the USA. By doing so, we offer enhanced quality control to our customers, and have better control over what is being added to our smoke juice.

    Contrary to the FDA’s claims, most e-cigarette companies DO NOT market to children, and are looking out for the bst interests of their customers.

    Johnny Blaze

  • John

    What the heck does the FDA think TABACO does to your health???????????

    • Ben

      Nope, but they do know not to annoy big tobacco!!!!

      I vape, it’s good because I had little desire to quit, yet with an e-cig have no desire to smoke, for stopping smoking cold turkey still is the best option… I feel in replacement therapies this is best.
      If you quit and have an e-cig at least you can relapse on to it, and not a cigarette, when you are not smoking and use this you may feel you wish to stop using it altogether, then you get to kick nicotine without the quitters cough and by stepping down strengths, by ending up on 0% nicotine and stopping.

      These devices do need further testing, and ultimately the fda need to work WITH manufactures to ensure that no risk is posed by the process.
      Recent moves to child proof packaging and comprehensive warnings and instructions by good suppliers have formed the first step.

  • Violet

    When the government figures out how to take its cut of the e-cig business, then they might leave it alone. Until then take heart in the fact that the biggest smear campaign has been and probably always will be against marijuana, which to my knowledge has NEVER killed a single soul. Now ain’t that ironic, considering how many people die from both alcohol and tobacco every year (100,000 and 490,000 in the US. respectively).

  • Dave K

    I smoked my first cigarette when I was 11, and didn’t look back. I just quit smoking Oct. 2nd of this year, and I’m not going back. I couldn’t conceive of quitting cold turkey, due to the ingrained habits of so many years.

    I transitioned from “analogs” to the e-cigarettes over the span of a week. The effects on my breathing were dramatic and nearly instant. I’ve recommended them to everyone I know who smokes.

    That the FDA has chosen the current negative course concerning the alleged dangers of this delivery system is not surprising at all, but it will be criminal in its real world effects on the health of millions of smokers if they suppress the use of this innovative technology.

    One quick WARNING to any who are contemplating the move from tobacco products to e-cigarettes. Do NOT fall for the SmokeAnywhere scam. Do NOT sign up for the $10.95 Risk Free Trial. They will bill your credit card for the full price of around $120.00 and also hit you for another $20.00 monthly charge for “maintenance” (i.e. new cartridges) without informing you. You will not find this out until it is too late. I canceled my credit card and disputed the charge successfully, but it’s a headache that no one needs. I should have known that any company using Danny Bonaduce as a spokesman was a fly-by-night operation.

    Happy Vaping,


    • Joe H.

      Dave K
      I started at 11 years with my first puff cause it was cool to be a smoker. I quit at 51 years old cold turkey and carried a half pack around in my pocket for a week. I’d take it out, look at it and say NO! put it back in my pocket and go on. I made up my mind that I was going to quit for ME. Not my family, my dog, my Dr., anybody else but ME!!! I am now 59 years old and I haven’t smoked one cigarette since and I never will!!! I have taste now, I can breathe, I can do things to a degree. I feel 1000% better! I now curse the day I took that first puff as the worst day of my life!!! god bless guy, I know how bad it can get. I did try patches, gum, and hypnosis. ALL FAILED!!!

  • Ron…

    Greeting ex-smokers! I am in your ranks and smoked from 1942 to 1973. I quit several times, each time growing longer, but kept going back to lighting them again. That continued to 1973, when I decided to quit, and quit I did, and to make it even more difficult, I stopped drinking at the same time. Consumption rate: Cigarettes, four (4) packs a day. Alcohol, in excess of a quart of Scotch, beer, liquors, etc. It took will power and I started going to the gym, most every day. I had a greater body and 50 years plus, than I had at 25 (snow and water skier, swimmer, diver, roller and ice skater, and other sports including long distance rowing.) Never went back to either, although once or twice a year, I might have a glass of wine, and just one. It takes will power and determination, not to pick up those habits again. I have a secret, I will share with you. For cigarettes, “Dont light another one!” It works, and for the alcohol, “Don’t take another drink! Don’t drink from the bottle either. It is an easy formula, just follow it and see! You don’t need me to wish you good luck, you just need common sense! Stop paying sin taxes, and use the money for enjoying the rest of your life.

  • Treatment for pe

    My nephew just got diagnosed with a brain tumor – our health is so important. Thanks for a such an enlightening story.

  • marcia

    I second what Ski said. The FDA isnt concerned with our health. They are against vitamoins for God’s sake. Who could be against a substance our bodies need, If FDA says electronic cigarettes are bad…that is enough proof for me that they are better than the real thing.

  • Kattie Callison

    I don’t normally comment but I gotta admit thanks for the post on this special one : D.

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