More bad news for e-cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes (or e-cigarettes) are marketed as a safer alternative to smoking, but US researchers recently evaluated the safety of five e-cigarette brands and gave them all the red light.

The products release a nicotine vapor into the lungs and are sold as a means to help smokers quit their habit. Researchers at the University of California, Riverside, tested five brands and "found design flaws, lack of adequate labeling, and several concerns about quality control and health issues," according to a December 3 press release. The results of the study were published in the December issue of the journal Tobacco Control.

Among some of the problems researchers cited were that the e-cigarettes packages lacked information on the product's content, usage, or warnings. Researchers noted that e-cigarette cartridges leaked, which could expose others, such as children and pets, to nicotine. Researchers recommend that officials consider removing e-cigarettes from the shelves until their safety is adequately evaluated.

"There are virtually no scientific studies on e-cigarettes and their safety," said lead researcher Prue Talbot in the release. "Our study - one of the first studies to evaluate e-cigarettes - shows that this product has many flaws, which could cause serious public health problems in the future if the flaws go uncorrected."

Last month the World Health Organization (WHO) announced plans to seek, for the first time, further exploration on pricing, taxation, and controls of e-cigarettes. Meanwhile, both the US and UK urge consumers to exercise caution when using the products.

In October, California researchers also published an unfavorable study on "harm reduction cigarettes," which have lower levels of nicotine than conventional ones and are marketed as healthier. Researchers found that the smoke coming off the end of a smoldering harm reduction cigarette, known as sidestream smoke, is even more toxic than sidestream smoke from conventional brands.

To access the journal (at press-time, the study was not available electronically): http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com

For further reading on e-cigarettes:
http://hubpages.com/hub/Electronica-Cigarettes-Are-They-Healthier
http://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/news/20090722/fda-ecigarettes-bad-not-banned
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8467797.stm

To read tips on quitting smoking:
http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/healthyliving/smokingandtobacco/givingup/

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/tobacco/smoking

 

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