E-cigarette health risks could potentially outweigh the risks of smoking regular cigarettes. The levels of nicotine in e-cigarettes can kill a child, its carcinogens can cause cancer in adults, and the unknown chemicals added to the nicotine-laced liquid solution are kept hidden from the consumer. Because of the e-cigarette health risks, “the French government has already vowed to extend existing legislation controlling the sale and consumption of tobacco to cover e-cigarettes,” reported EuroNews on Aug. 27, 2013.
The e-cigarette health risk warning has been issued after a French study discovered that e-cigarettes are not as harmless and without health risks as many e-cigarette smokers are led to believe.
“The vapours can contain almost the same amounts of the carcinogenic compound formaldehyde as in a conventional cigarette.”
The French study about e-cigarette health risks is nothing new. On December 7, 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit already upheld a lower court ruling and decided that electronic cigarettes should be regulated as tobacco products.
Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are battery powered devices that vaporize a nicotine-laced liquid solution into an aerosol mist which simulates the act of tobacco smoking. While manufacturers claim that e-cigarettes are a healthy way to quit smoking, smoking is smoking and nicotine is nicotine; be it in solid or liquid form.
According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), because of the health risks of e-cigarettes, e-cigarettes should have a health warning label and be regulated like nicotine patches or nicotine replacement gum.
In a 2009 consumer health brochure titled “FDA Warns of Health Risks Posed by E-Cigarettes,” the FDA wrote that "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 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.
Despite the FDA’s 2009 warning, during the past four years, there have been very few rigorous studies completed in regard to the health risks of e-cigarettes until now.
As of July 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) states that the safety of e-cigarettes “has not been scientifically demonstrated.”
According to the WHO report, scientific testing of e-cigarettes has shown that “the products vary widely in the amount of nicotine and other chemicals they deliver and there is no way for consumers to find out what is actually delivered by the product they have purchased.”
Most e-cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, or electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) “contain large concentrations of propylene glycol, which is a known irritant when inhaled. The testing of some of these products also suggests the presence of other toxic chemicals, aside from nicotine. In addition, use of these products -when they contain nicotine- can pose a risk for nicotine poisoning (i.e. if a child of 30 Kilos of weight swallows the contents of a nicotine cartridge of 24 mg this could cause acute nicotine poisoning that most likely would cause its death) and a risk for addiction to nonsmokers of tobacco products. Nicotine, either inhaled, ingested or in direct contact with the skin, can be particularly hazardous to the health and safety of certain segments of the population, such as children, young people, pregnant women, nursing mothers, people with heart conditions and the elderly. ENDS and their nicotine cartridges and refill accessories must be kept out of the reach of young children at all times in view of the risk of choking or nicotine poisoning.”
The most recently released French study about e-cigarettes health risks reemphasizes WHO’s concern about the lack of child-proof safety caps that can expose children to potentially fatal nicotine levels.
According to the historical overview report "E-cigarettes: The secret about electronic cigarettes - what every e-cigarette user might want to know," the lack of regulation in the production of e-cigarettes "allows e-cigarette companies to be lazy or negligent."
An opposition against the control or regulation of e-cigarettes is expected to come from major investors who are taking advantage of the increasing popularity of e-cigarettes in light of the decreasing market for traditional cigarettes. "In June of 2013, it was announced that Sean Parker will be investing $75 million in a leading maker of electronic cigarettes.
However, other European countries are likely to follow the French example of legislating e-cigarettes once it becomes clear that e-cigarettes are more of an illusion than a reality.
“As ENDS do not generate the smoke that is associated with the combustion of tobacco, their use is commonly believed by consumers to be safer than smoking tobacco. This illusive ‘safety’ of ENDS can be enticing to consumers.”