Concerns raised over safety of 'electronic cigarettes'

Published on October 12, 2008 at 5:28 AM · 14 Comments

The increasing popularity of 'electronic cigarettes' is causing concern in Britain.

The cigarettes use replaceable cartridges with shots of nicotine and have become popular because they are not covered by the smoking ban.

The products are marketed as healthier because they do not contain tar, tobacco or carbon monoxide and other the components which cause cancer and heart disease.

Users instead inhale a fine heated mist which supposedly makes them healthier than normal cigarettes but the worry is that they are not covered by any regulation.

Since smoking bans in many countries have come into force, smokers have been forced outside to smoke and electronic cigarettes have been a way for cigarette companies to get round the ban.

In recent months sales have soared but there is concern that over the lack of knowledge about the products.

Campaigners and the World Health Organisation (WHO) say there is a "regulatory blackhole" and no-one knows just what these cartridges contain besides nicotine, or the effects of heating and vapourising the nicotine and inhaling it.

Also a worry is that many of the products are made in China where quality control has repeatedly been found to be inadequate.

While most want smokers to use safer nicotine products they say there is a regulatory gap - experts advice smokers trying to quit to use products which have been tried and tested such as nicotine gums and patches.

Jason Cropper, the managing director of the Electronic Cigarette Company, says it had not been possible to carry out human trials as they were too expensive, but tests done on mice and in the lab have shown they are not harmful and are certainly healthier than smoking cigarettes.

He says most companies selling electronic cigarette are small companies with limited finances.

The WHO says if the marketers of the electronic cigarette want to help smokers quit, then they need to conduct clinical studies and toxicity analyses and operate within the proper regulatory framework and until they do that, the electronic cigarette cannot be considered to be an appropriate nicotine replacement therapy.

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Comments
  1. Christopher Barrett Christopher Barrett Germany says:

    Im not exactly sure how the E-cigarettes actually work.  I bought one myself from SmartSmoker...and it could be JUST ME but it tasted like a Fog machine.  Not only did it not taste like a cigarette but after taking a couple puffs I felt strange.  I got the nicotine that I needed but I also got a strange feeling in my head (to explain it exactly:  Pressure in my sinus cavitys although there was no flem present, mild blurred vision, dizzyness)  This feeling was not present while smoking normal cigarettes nor was it present before the usage of the E-cigarette. The feeling lasted for a couple hours after I decided to stop using the E-cigarette and the dizzyness stayed well into the next morning when I woke.  Could this be a coincidence?

  2. Janet Andersen Janet Andersen United States says:

    I just started using the ecig too.  I haven't had any kind of reaction to it other than I haven't needed a real cigarette in 24hrs. It does smell a little like a fog machine, but I think most people would rather smell that than the tobacco. I'd love to see someone do some real studies. This could be a real help for those of us that smoke and I'm sorry, but the alternatives just don't cut it. It may be politically (and medically) correct to say just stop smoking, the reality if far different.

    • chris chris United States says:

      Wow, funny that both you guys mentioned a 'fog machine'.  Another article noted that they contained propelyne glycol, the liquid used in fog machines.  It's unsure whether it's safe to inhale, but I don't see haunted house workers and concert special effects teams hacking up a lung.  So did you use one that had any flavoring to them or just a straight nicotine?  What brand was it? I was thinking of trying them out. The Blue e-cigarettes have different flavors, wondering if it covered up the nasty taste.

  3. Jaska Jaska Finland says:

    Funny may not be appropriate word for these concerns but still I just can't help laughing. This product is a replacement for traditional cigarettes. Ok, everything is not known about the E-cigs yet. But enough is known about traditional light-up tobacco cigarettes. They kill millions of people every year. The E-cigs are probably not healthy either but they can't possibly be worse. I bought mine 6 months ago and haven't smoked a "real" cigarette since. And I feel GREAT. No carbon monoxide, no tar, no carsinogenic substances whatsoever, my lungs can really tell the difference. In the future: no cancer or COPD, no painful death at the age of 50 or so. That's enough for me to make my decision.

    These "health concerns" are nothing but hipocracy at it's worst. The governments are afraid of decreased tax revenue if more and more people stop buying regular cigarettes.

  4. Dawn Dawn United States says:

    Im a 30 year + smoker and have used ALL the other smoking cessations (patch, gum, zyban, chantix, etc) and, while they have all helped me quit, it was only for a short time. I bought an ecig about a week ago and its similarity to smoking really helps the habit (hand/mouth affiliation) and there is the vapor that appears as smoke (you can even blow smoke rings). They taste pretty good but its different than a real cigarette. At this point I have not experienced any adverse side affects but it definitely relieves my cravings (which is a great!). While there may be some "unknown" health risks, I can't imagine that they could be worse or even as bad as smoking tobacco! I think ecigs are great! They are much cheaper than the real thing and I haven't smoked a real cig in 6 days! I hope they do some clinical studies to find out if they really are safer but in the meantime, I'll still use mine. I'd even be willing to participate in a study to determine its affects.

  5. ADe1976 ADe1976 United Kingdom says:

    I got mine this morning and have noticed a rough throat sensation and the taste is quite soapy (if you ask me but this may just be the particular cartridges I got with the kit) but what is worrying me much more is how blurry my vision goes after a few tokes.

    I work with computers all the time and it is really apparent when looking at a white web page.

    I've gone and bought some normal cigarettes for now and will experiment a few days longer but frankly I'm not having blurry (a bit liquidy probably describes it better) vision.

    Fingures crossed!

    P.S. Those who say "got to be better than" need to realize "unknown" is not better than "bad" logically. It's "unknown" and that's all we know. Could just as easily be better or worse.

    • Tammy Tammy United States says:

      I have been smoking the e-cig for two days. I am experiencing some side affects like sore throat, cough and headache. I'm hoping it's just temporary. I did not have a cough believe it or not, before smoking the e-cigs. I normally smoke American Spirit chemical free cigarettes. My plan is to use the e-cig as a quitting aid. I want to gradually reduce the nicotine until I no longer have a need for it. That's my hope anyway. If I was planning to contiue smoking, I think I would go back to AS cigarettes.

  6. Paul Paul United States says:

    I just stopped smoking the e cigs for 3 days and now my throat is destroyed.

  7. sharron sharron United Kingdom says:

    i am smoking sky cigs i have only had them a day and have a sore throat/  i could quit with them but to be honest never had a sore thrpat  from fags  so wondering if they can do as much damage as a fag

  8. Felicia G Felicia G United States says:

    I too have quit smking after smoking for 33+ years and have started using the e cig. Ive had a sore throat, swollen lymph nodes and a swollen throid gland since I started using the e cig. Im pretty sure its from the e cig. I love using it but I hate what its doing to my throat. I agree that there needs to be more testing done on the side effects of this product.

  9. winterz winterz Canada says:

    Ive been using the e cig for about a month.I went to the Dr cuz my throat was sore.Not only did he find redness but he also found inflammation as well.Yesterday he put me on a antibiotic due to the swelling and soreness of my throat.I advise anyone who uses this device, should see a doctor if its hard to swallow and if the throat becomes sore.Not only that,my strongest advise is,not to use the ecig at all.

  10. Jack Galliver Jack Galliver uk says:

    i recently developed asthma, presumably from smoking normal roll ups. switched to the e cig cos i thought it would help me out. not a fan. i puffed on it a few times in a day for about 5 to 10 minutes, felt my throat getting sore so i decided to stop using it. its absolutely destroyed me, incredibly sore and nothing seems to be helping in thus far, these things are not good for you, i bought one from a pharmacy outside a doctors surgery, it would come as no surprise to me if the pharmaceutical institutions of this world have invented a more addictive, potentially dangerous way of making more money at the expense of us!

  11. Tyler Gaymer Tyler Gaymer United Kingdom says:

    I've been using e-cigarettes for a month and not had any side effects.

    After 18 yrs of smoking 40 cigs a day, I've not touched a normal cigarette since!

    Several years ago I tried giving up and had terrible sore throat & cough, so could the symptoms people are experiencing be due to stopping smoking rather than being caused by e-cigarettes?

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News-Medical.Net.
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