In recent years, electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) have been promoted as a safe alternative to smoking real cigarettes. In an actual cigarette, the tobacco smoke contains thousands of carcinogens and other unhealthy chemicals. The reasoning goes that because e-cigarettes don’t contain tobacco, they’re better for the body; they provide smokers with a nicotine fix, without all of the extra toxicity from the tobacco.
But are these claims true? Are e-cigarettes really a safe alternative to tobacco products?
Recent research published in the National Consumer Institute Magazine of France adds to a small but growing body of evidence that e-cigarettes do contain carcinogens. The recent research also shows that, in some e-cigarettes, the levels of certain carcinogens are at least equal to what’s found in real cigarettes.
Even if tobacco does contain a wider variety of carcinogens and chemicals, this doesn’t mean that e-cigarettes are safe. At best, they may be the lesser of two evils – not as unhealthy as a real cigarette, but still potentially harmful. Furthermore, keep in mind that e-cigarettes have been in use for only a short time, and that less research has been conducted on them; we’ll have to wait a while longer to gauge their long-term impact on health, including their effect on rates of cancer. All we can say now is that e-cigarettes do contain carcinogens and that consumers can’t simply take for granted the word of e-cigarette proponents that these products are safe.
Consumer safety issues
What’s also alarming is that the production of e-cigarettes is unregulated. An e-cigarette company could include all sorts of chemicals in their products without notifying consumers. Although the FDA is contemplating several regulations on e-cigarettes, as of now manufacturers can get away with practices that harm consumers.
The impact on underaged smokers
According to the CDC, the use of e-cigarettes among middle school and high school students more than doubled between 2011 and 2012. In essence, children are using an unregulated, toxic product at increasing rates. An additional concern is that e-cigarettes will be a gateway product to real cigarettes; kids will get their first nicotine fix from a product they perceive as safer, which may then increase their willingness to try tobacco.
The quit facilitation claim
E-cigarette manufacturers and supporters have made claims that e-cigarettes could help people quit smoking tobacco. But the evidence so far isn’t convincing; cessation methods such as using a patch and/or receiving counseling are still available for those who want to quit.
The bottom line
What we’re seeing is the increasing use – among both adults and children – of an unregulated product that contains harmful substances known to damage the body. Remain cautious about the claims of e-cigarette manufacturers and proponents. And don’t hesitate to contact the Levensten Law Firm further discuss your concerns about the use of e-cigarettes, the way they’re advertised to the general population and your right to compensation for injuries caused by e-cigarettes.