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News » Filed under: Cancer Risks/Causes, Smoking/Tobacco

E-Cigarettes Contain Toxins, FDA Analysis Shows

Article date: July 27, 2009

By Rebecca V. Snowden

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, contain carcinogens and toxic chemicals, according to a new analysis by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). One sample even included diethylene glycol, a toxic ingredient found in antifreeze.

E-cigarettes are often sold as a way to quit smoking or to get nicotine in places where smoking isn't allowed, but they aren't currently regulated by the FDA.

"The FDA is concerned about the safety of these products and how they are marketed to the public,” said Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D., commissioner of food and drugs.

E-cigarettes, first produced in China in 2004, are battery-operated devices designed to look and feel like cigarettes, right down to the glowing tip. They contain cartridges which are filled with chemicals and varying doses of nicotine, from high doses to no nicotine at all.

They’re available in different flavors, such as chocolate and mint, which make them appealing to kids and teens. These products are also easy for kids and teens to buy – they’re readily available online and in shopping malls. And at this time, e-cigarettes do not contain any health warnings, such as those on FDA-approved nicotine replacement products or conventional cigarettes.

The FDA looked at 18 samples of cartridges from 2 leading e-cigarette brands. Half the samples contained cancer-causing substances. They found other impurities, as well, including diethylene glycol.

The report also found inconsistencies in the products. Nicotine levels from each puff varied a great deal, even between cartridges labeled as having the same nicotine amounts. Testing also found small amounts of nicotine in most of the cartridges labeled nicotine-free.

While these products have been billed as tools to help smokers quit, they have not been submitted to the FDA for that purpose.

Visit the FDA Web site to read the full report. For more information about e-cigarettes, the dangers of nicotine, and how you can stop using cigarettes and other tobacco products, see our Guide to Quitting Smoking.


Reviewed by: Members of the ACS Medical Content Staff

ACS News Center stories are provided as a source of cancer-related news and are not intended to be used as press releases.

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