CHICAGO - One state has already banned e-cigarettes, the battery-powered tobacco-free smoking tubes. This week, two distributors of the products challenge the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in federal court for confiscating product shipments from China; the FDA says they are dangerous.
The tube looks like a paper-and-tobacco cigarette and produces vapors of nicotine and flavors that can be inhaled without the traditional cigarette smoke. Those who uses the devices call it “vaping.” Oregon has banned the sale of the so-called electronic cigarettes, as have Canada and Mexico. Some makers of e-cigarettes say “vaping” is safer than smoking. Kathy Drea, vice president of advocacy for the American Lung Association Upper Midwest says that’s debatable.
“The FDA has found carcinogens and toxic chemicals in the vapor that the person inhales and in the vapor that’s released from the e-cigarette.”
Drea says that those findings were from a small sample only, and because e-cigarettes are so new, no one really knows the long-term health effects. She says the American Lung Association is concerned about how fast these e-cigarettes hit the market.
“These cigarette manufacturers have sold these nicotine delivery devices without any FDA review or approval.”
Drea says the results of preliminary tests don’t look good.
“The FDA has done some studies on the e-cigarettes, and they have found that they contain carcinogens and toxic chemicals, including ingredients found in antifreeze.”
The antifreeze ingredient is diethyline glycol.
The federal district court will be asked to decide whether e-cigarettes should be classified as tobacco or as nicotine products. If they are classified as nicotine, then the FDA says they should be treated just like any smoking cessation aid and should be subject to federal regulation and testing. The manufacturers want the court to classify e-cigarettes as tobacco products, to be more loosely regulated. The Electronic Cigarette Association, which represents the distributors, claims e-cigarettes deliver a harmless mixture of nicotine and water vapor.
The Upper Midwest District includes Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota and North and South Dakota.
August 17, 2009
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