Sunday, December 5, 2010

E-cigarettes are not safe, and here's why

E-cigarettes, or electronic cigarettes, have been largely unregulated, and there have been many doctors questioning its safety.

MedPage Today recently reported on the FDA’s analysis of such products, and now we have some guidance as to how dangerous they can be.

E-cigarettes are battery operated, and contain nicotine and other flavors that the user can inhale. Advertisements claim they are safer since they don’t burn tobacco.

But according to the FDA, they “contain carcinogens such as diethylene glycol — used in antifreeze — and nitrosamines.”

To his credit, internist Matthew Mintz has been sounding the alarm for awhile. Not only does he point out they are largely unregulated, there are real questions as to whether they help with smoking cessation at all. He writes that, “e-cigarettes were designed to be tobacco cigarette replacement products, not smoking cessation aides. It is also possible that smokers will use e-cigarettes in place of SOME of their tobacco cigarettes. Although this does decrease exposure to known dangerous products, e-cigarettes might therefore actually prolong tobacco cigarette smoking.”

It’s encouraging to see the FDA start critically analyzing the claims of these types of alternative products, often advertised on late-night television. Hopefully there will be more to come.

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