Risks of E-cigarettes Unknown

<"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/Electronic-Cigarettes">E-cigarettes, a product that enables inhalation of nicotine without tar, tobacco, and carbon monoxide, are viewed by many as a healthy alternative to traditional cigarettes. Regardless, many others are concerned about the safety data on electronic cigarettes, says the BBC, citing warnings from two Greek researchers.

Andreas Flouris and Dimitris Oikonomou, from the Institute of Human Performance and Rehabilitation in Greece, say three major e-cigarette safety reports exist: One by US regulators, one by a publicly-funded Greek research institute, and one by a private New Zealand company, noted the BBC. Health New Zealand found cancer-causing chemicals in the devices.

According to the British Medical Journal, says the BBC, the dearth of information leaves questions as to whether or not the alternative cigarette products actually offer a safe option or if they cause harm. Some studies have pointed to harm, but industry argues e-cigarettes offer smokers a better choice, says the BBC. According to the Department of Health, consumers are warned to “exercise caution,” quoted the BBC.

The Greek researchers say that consumers should cease using e-cigarettes pending completion of current safety studies and release of information “within the next year,” reports the BBC. Also, the World Health Organization (WHO) is concerned about the substitute’s safety, especially given that the devices release nicotine in a fine vapor, explained the BBC.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) raised issues regarding the differences in nicotine delivered by the various brands of e-cigarettes, which are battery operated or rechargeable, and noted the presence of “powerful cancer-causing chemicals,” said the BBC. In the US, regulators have delayed and stopped a number of e-cigarette shipments, noted the BBC, which added that it is against the law in the UK to sell the products as an aid to quit smoking. E-cigarettes are readily available for purchase on the Internet as a “cigarette alternative” and can be found in a number of bars and clubs, said the BBC.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said it had been working with regulators to test e-cigarettes; none have fallen within compliance of product safety regulations, according to the BBC. “The Department of Health is not aware of any evidence about the long-term safety of e-cigarettes and, as such, would suggest that consumers exercise caution,” she said, quoted the BBC.

Meanwhile, a US judge just “granted a preliminary injunction” to prevent the Obama administration from attempts to regulate electronic cigarettes and prevent import into the US, said Reuters. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon criticized the FDA for attempting to oversee device jurisdiction, saying “This case appears to be yet another example of FDA’s aggressive efforts to regulate recreational tobacco products as drugs or devices,” quoted Reuters. Of note, a law passed in 2009 provided power to the agency over regulation of cigarettes and tobacco products, said Reuters; however, e-cigarettes, although containing nicotine, are not considered to be subject to the 2009 regulation, said Reuters. The FDA disagrees, saying that the product is both a drug and a device, which places it under agency regulation, wrote Reuters.

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