A new study from the University of California, Riverside, finds that electronic cigarettes, also called “electronic nicotine delivery systems,” contain design flaws, lack adequate labeling, and raise several concerns about quality control and health issues. The study, published in Tobacco Control, concludes that electronic cigarettes are potentially harmful and urges regulators to consider removing electronic cigarettes from the market until their safety is adequately evaluated.

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are increasingly used worldwide even though little information is available on their health effects. In the United States, electronic cigarettes are readily available in shopping malls in most states and on the Internet.

Unlike conventional cigarettes, which burn tobacco, e-cigarettes vaporize nicotine, along with other compounds present in the cartridge, in the form of aerosol created by heating, but do not produce the thousands of chemicals and toxicants created by tobacco combustion. Nothing is known, however, about the chemicals present in the aerosolized vapors emanating from e-cigarettes.

The study examined the design, accuracy and clarity of labeling, nicotine content, leakiness, defective parts, disposal, errors in filling orders, instruction manual quality and advertising for the following brands of e-cigarettes: NJOY, Liberty Stix, Crown Seven (Hydro), Smoking Everywhere (Gold and Platinum), and VapCigs.

The researchers found that:

  • Batteries, atomizers, cartridges, cartridge wrappers, packs, and instruction manuals lack important information regarding e-cigarette content, use, and essential warnings;
  • E-cigarette cartridges leak, which could expose nicotine, an addictive and dangerous chemical, to children, adults, pets, and the environment;
  • Currently, there are no methods for proper disposal of e-cigarette products and accessories, including cartridges, which could result in nicotine contamination from discarded cartridges entering water sources and soil, and adversely impacting the environment; and
  • The manufacture, quality control, sales, and advertisement of e-cigarettes are unregulated.

“More research on e-cigarettes is crucially needed to protect the health of e-cigarette users and even those who do not use e-cigarettes,” said Kamlesh Asotra, a research administrator at the University of California Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program. “Contrary to the claims of manufacturers and marketers of e-cigarettes being ‘safe,’ in fact, virtually nothing is known about the toxicity of the vapors generated by these e-cigarettes. Until we know any thing about the potential health risks of the toxins generated upon heating the nicotine-containing content of the e-cigarette cartridges, the ‘safety’ claims of the manufacturers are dubious at best.”

Source: University of California, Riverside