E-cigarettes (electronic cigarettes) could be dangerous to your health. Recent tests conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that two popular brands of e-cigarettes contained carcinogens and other dangerous substances. Yet, some companies that market e-cigarettes claim they are not as harmful as traditional cigarettes. What’s worse, e-cigarettes are often marketed and sold to young people, even children.
Most e-cigarette users would be shocked at what was found in these devices. The hazardous substances included a highly-toxic chemical used to make antifreeze. The FDA also found that some e-cigarettes labeled as having no nicotine actually contained the addictive substance.
Our e-cigarette lawyers are investigating potential lawsuits against the distributors of these highly dangerous products. If you smoke e-cigarettes because of claims that they are safer than traditional cigarettes, you may be entitled to compensation. Please contact one of our e-cigarette lawyers right away to protect your legal rights.
What Are E-Cigarettes?
E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that generally contain cartridges filled with nicotine, flavor, and other chemicals. The electronic cigarette turns nicotine, which is highly addictive, and other chemicals, into a vapor that is inhaled by the user. E-cigarettes are sold online, in retail shops, and at mall kiosks around the country for about $100 to $200.
Because these products have not been submitted to the FDA for evaluation or approval, there is no way of knowing how much nicotine or other chemicals they deliver to the user; however, limited testing conducted by the FDA has raised alarms. According to the agency, e-cigarettes are marketed and sold to young people. In addition, these products do not contain any health warnings comparable to FDA-approved nicotine replacement products or conventional cigarettes. They are also available in different flavors, such as chocolate and mint, which may appeal to young people.
The FDA has been stopping shipments of e-cigarettes at the border since 2008. As of July 2009, 50 shipments had been refused, but e-cigarettes are still widely available in the United States. Canada fully banned the devices in March 2009.
The FDA believes that e-cigarettes are both a drug and a device, making them subject to regulation under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. However, one of the companies that markets e-cigarettes filed suit against the FDA in April 2009, claiming that the agency overstepped its authority by banning shipments and insisting that e-cigarettes go through the drug approval process.
Study Suggests E-Cigs May Carry Heart Disease Risk
E-cigarettes have risen in popularity within the past decade. They are often marketed as a healthier alternative to smoking or as a smoking cessation tool. However, experts point out that these devices have not been on the market long. As such, we know little about the long-term health consequences of vaping (the process of smoking an e-cigarette). Safety advocates have favored regulating e-cigarettes, especially with regard to marketing toward adolescents. Studies have also shown that e-cigarettes are not completely harmless. In December 2016, a study published in the journal Atherosclerosis found that taking ten puffs on an e-cigarette triggered changes associated with an increased risk of heart disease. The study was conducted by Swedish researchers at the world-renowned Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. Sixteen participants who seldom smoked were randomized into groups that were either exposed to vaping or not. Those in the vaping group were asked to take 10 puffs on an e-cigarette for 10 minutes. Blood samples were taken at baseline, and 1 hour, 4 hours and 24 hours after exposure to e-cigarettes.
Study authors reported a “rapid rise” in the level of endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) within the first hour. Increased levels of EPCs indicates damage to the inner lining of blood vessels. The “very short exposure to e-cigarette vapor … may indicate an impact on vascular integrity leading to future atherosclerosis,” the authors wrote. Atherosclerosis is the hardening of the arteries; this narrows the flow of blood and leads to cardiovascular disease, which can manifest as heart attack, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.
In fact, it took 24 hours for EPCs to return to normal. The authors found that the increased levels of EPCs following vaping with the e-cigarette was comparable to that of smoking one traditional cigarette, concluding that, “In healthy volunteers, ten puffs of e-cigarette vapor inhalation caused an increase in EPCs. This increase was of the same magnitude as following smoking of one traditional cigarette, as we previously demonstrated. Taken together, these results may represent signs of possible vascular changes after short e-cigarette inhalation. Further studies analyzing potential cardiovascular health effects are critical as the e-cigarette market continues to burgeon.”
Professor Joep Perk, heart specialist and spokesman for the European Society of Cardiology, expressed concern and surprise that short exposure to e-cigarettes could trigger such physiological changes. “It really surprises me that so little vapor from an e-cigarette is needed to start the heart disease ball rolling.” he said, according to the Daily Mail UK. “It’s worrying that one e-cigarette can trigger such a response.”
Further studies are needed to determine if long-term e-cigarette users have a higher risk of developing heart disease. However, the researchers pointed out that the average user takes 230 puffs daily, suggesting that this type of exposure could lead to significant health consequences.
This is not the only study to suggest that vaping may trigger changes leading to atherosclerosis. In August 2016, researchers from the University of Athens Medical School presented findings at the world’s largest cardiology conference suggesting that puffing on an e-cigarette for half an hour produced similar changes in stiffness in the aorta compared to tobacco cigarettes. Both products also increased blood pressure. E-cigarettes are less harmful [than smoking tobacco] but they are not harmless.” said lead researcher Professor Charalambos Vlachopulos at the time. “I wouldn’t recommend them as a method of giving up smoking.” Also, in July 2016, a group of 13 health bodies in the United Kingdom issued a statement advocating that conventional smokers should switch to e-cigarettes because evidence shows they are substantially less harmful. However, not all regulatory bodies or experts agree. In the United States and Europe, regulators have taken a more precautionary approach.
Dr. Filippos Filippidis, lecturer in public health at Imperial College, London, told the Daily Mail UK, “Only time will tell who is right, but my personal opinion is that some more caution would be prudent until the evidence is more clear.” He pointed out that, “Very soon, major tobacco companies will enter the market with their own e-cigarettes or similar products that promise harm reduction. I would feel very uncomfortable promoting products created by companies which have caused so much death and pain. I don’t think we could trust them with our people’s health.”
Filippidis also emphasized the need for more research, stating “We don’t know whether we may start to see diseases emerge in ten or 20 years’ time associated with some of the ingredients. We urgently need more research into the devices.”
Research Reveals that E-Cigarette Flavoring and Battery Voltage are Tied to Cellular Toxicity
Evidence reveals that the flavorings used in e-cigarettes and other vaping products induce acute inhalation toxicity at the cellular level, according to a September 2016 report by MedPage Today. In fact, some flavorings were found to be more toxic than others.
The study was published online in BMJ’s Tobacco Control. Of the five flavors tested, strawberry was found to be the most toxic to bronchial cells. Prior studies revealed, and this was also found in this research, that higher battery output voltage was tied to higher toxicity in what was described as a dose-dependent manner.
Although the chemical compounds that create flavorings were not studied, researchers from Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York, found that menthol, coffee, and strawberry flavors revealed a significant and intense affect on overall cytotoxicity (being toxic to cells); piña colada and tobacco flavors were associated with less cytotoxicity, according to MedPage Today.
“Our data indicate that combinations of product, voltages, and flavorings exist that are cytotoxic to airway epithelial cells,” wrote Maciej L. Goniewicz, PhD, PharmD, and colleagues. “Since our study focused on the acute effects of flavored electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) products, our observations require verification in chronic exposure models, more relevant to regular use of ENDS products.” Goniewicz also wrote to MedPage Today about calling for the flavoring compounds in e-cigarettes to be evaluated and tested to determine possible potential toxicity and safety: “Many of these flavorings have been widely used in foods and cosmetics, but they have never been tested when inhaled. With the rise of e-cigarette popularity, we need to be cautious and develop accurate and fast screening methods for inhalation effects of such flavorings.”
For this study, researchers used a new testing method known as “air-liquid interface” culture (ALI). ALI allowed for direct cell exposure to ENDS aerosol generated via a smoking machine, according to MedPage Today. Different ENDS products, or a tank system pre-filled with liquids of different flavors and nicotine concentrations, were tested, as were different battery output voltages. Flavoring chemicals were identified by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry.
Six types of ENDS were bought at gas stations, convenience stores, online retailers, and local vape shops in Buffalo, New York and Daly City, California. Refill solutions were bought from a Buffalo vape shop for tank systems in the five flavors tested. H292 human bronchial epithelial cells were exposed to 55 puffs of fresh ENDS aerosol, tobacco smoke, or air (controls). Assessment was conducted of in vitro cell viability, metabolic activity, and cytokines release.
“Interestingly, it was not nicotine or nicotine solvents, but other additives in e-cigarettes that affected respiratory cells used in our study,” Goniewicz said, according to MedPage Today. Goniewicz and his co-researchers pointed out that the review of flavors, not flavoring compounds, was a study limitation that called for further research. “Further studies are needed to investigate the cytotoxic effect of single flavoring chemicals in ENDS liquids, combinations of these ingredients, and the effects of alternate ENDS liquid products with the same flavor name. Our study indicates that testing toxicity of ENDS products should not be limited to individual flavoring chemicals, since the ENDS liquids are complex mixtures, and other product features (e.g., voltage) contribute to overall toxicity of ENDS aerosol.”
FDA Finalizes Rules for E-Cigarettes, Other Tobacco Products
On August 8, 2016 a new FDA rule went into effect regarding regulation of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cigars, and hookah and pipe tobacco. The agency was given the authority to regulate cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco products in June 2009, under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. The new rule expanded this authority to include all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cigars, hookah and pipe tobacco, as well as nicotine gels and dissolvables.
The new FDA regulations mandate health warnings on cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco and certain other tobacco products. Free samples are also banned under the new rule. Tobacco products that were introduced after February 15, 2007 will now have to be authorized by the FDA, proving that the products meet certain standards. The new rule also places an age restriction on newly regulated tobacco products, prohibiting sales to anyone under the age of 18 and requiring photo identification. Additionally, tobacco products cannot be sold in vending machines unless they are sold in an adult-only facility.
“Before this final rule, these products could be sold without any review of their ingredients, how they were made, and their potential dangers,” said Mitch Zeller, J.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, according to the FDA Consumer Update page. “Under this new rule, we’re taking steps to protect Americans from the dangers of tobacco products, ensure these tobacco products have health warnings, and restrict sales to minors.”
The agency noted that “some tobacco products have the potential to be less harmful than others. But more evidence is needed. The agency is exploring this issue with respect to tobacco regulation.”
FDA E-cigarette Tests
Because of its concerns about the safety of e-cigarettes, the FDA had its Division of Pharmaceutical Analysis test a small sample of cartridges from two leading brands of electronic cigarettes: Smoking Everywhere and Njoy. The tests found the following:
- Diethylene glycol was detected in one cartridge at approximately one percent. Diethylene glycol, an ingredient used in antifreeze, is toxic to humans.
- Certain tobacco-specific nitrosamines, which are human carcinogens were detected in half of the samples tested.
- Tobacco-specific impurities suspected of being harmful to humans: Anabasine, myosmine, and β-nicotyrine-were detected in a majority of the samples tested.
- The electronic cigarette cartridges that were labeled as containing no nicotine had low levels of nicotine present in all cartridges tested, except one.
- Three different electronic cigarette cartridges with the same label were tested and each cartridge emitted a markedly different amount of nicotine with each puff. The nicotine levels per puff ranged from 26.8 to 43.2 mcg nicotine/100 mL puff.
- One high-nicotine cartridge delivered twice as much nicotine to users when the vapor from that electronic cigarette brand was inhaled than was delivered by a sample of the nicotine inhalation product (used as a control) approved by FDA for use as a smoking cessation aid.
At an FDA news conference to discuss the e-cigarette test results, Jonathan Winickoff, MD, chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics Tobacco Consortium, expressed concerns that the devices-especially those that come in flavors-might appeal to kids. He said e-cigarettes could cause kids to become addicted to nicotine and turn them into smokers.
In a statement that followed the release of the FDA test results, the American Lung Association said that it shared the agency’s concerns. The group urged the FDA “to act immediately to halt the sale and distribution of all e-cigarettes unless the products have been reviewed and approved for sale by the FDA.”
E-cigarette Class Action Lawsuit
Thousands of people-even children-use e-cigarettes in the mistaken belief that these devices pose less risk than traditional cigarettes. In reality, they may be exposing themselves to dangerous, cancer-causing chemicals. Our e-cigarette lawyers are committed to making sure the marketers of these products pay for their deceptive claims. We are offering free case evaluations to anyone interested in joining an e-cigarette class action lawsuit.
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