The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has joined other health experts to warn consumers about potential health risks associated with electronic cigarettes. Also known as “e-cigarettes,” electronic cigarettes are battery-operated devices designed to look like and to be used in the same manner as conventional cigarettes.
Sold online and in many shopping malls, the devices generally contain cartridges filled with nicotine, flavor, and other chemicals. They turn nicotine, which is highly addictive, and other chemicals into a vapor that is inhaled by the user. The FDA is concerned that
- e-cigarettes can increase nicotine addiction among young people and may lead kids to try other tobacco products, including conventional cigarettes, which are known to cause disease and lead to premature death
- the products may contain ingredients that are known to be toxic to humans
- because clinical studies about the safety and efficacy of these products for their intended use have not been submitted to FDA, consumers currently have no way of knowing 1) whether e-cigarettes are safe for their intended use, or 2) about what types or concentrations of potentially harmful chemicals or what dose of nicotine they are inhaling when they use these products.
In addition, the American Lung Association, along with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, recently called for e-cigarettes to be removed from the market. The groups say e-cigarettes have yet to be proven safe and that kids may be attracted to the products, some of which come in flavors like chocolate and strawberry.