Study: E-cigarettes are unsafe & pose health risks

Safety evaluation of electronic cigarettes is urgently needed, UC Riverside researchers say.

uch_ucr_ecigarette_fluidElectronic cigarettes (or e-cigarettes), also called “electronic nicotine delivery systems,” are increasingly used worldwide even though only sparse information is available on their health effects. In the United States, e-cigarettes are readily available in shopping malls in most states and on the Internet. But how safe are e-cigarettes?

To address this question, researchers at UC Riverside evaluated five e-cigarette brands and found design flaws, lack of adequate labeling, and several concerns about quality control and health issues. They conclude that e-cigarettes are potentially harmful and urge regulators to consider removing e-cigarettes from the market until their safety is adequately evaluated.

Unlike conventional cigarettes, which burn tobacco, e-cigarettes vaporize nicotine, along with other compounds present in the cartridge, in the form of aerosol created by heating, but do not produce the thousands of chemicals and toxicants created by tobacco combustion. Nothing is known, however, about the chemicals present in the aerosolized vapors emanating from e-cigarettes.

“As a result, some people believe that e-cigarettes are a safe substitute for conventional cigarettes,” said Prue Talbot, the director of UC Riverside’s Stem Cell Center, whose lab led the research. “However, there are virtually no scientific studies on e-cigarettes and their safety. Our study – one of the first studies to evaluate e-cigarettes – shows that this product has many flaws, which could cause serious public health problems in the future if the flaws go uncorrected.”

Study results appear in this month’s issue of Tobacco Control.

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22 Responses to “Study: E-cigarettes are unsafe & pose health risks”

  1. GC says:

    This study appears to have been poorly done. Contrary to the press release’s assertion, it is known what chemicals are present in the vapors emanating from the e-cigarettes.

    From a study done in New Zealand that one can find by searching for a portion of the quote below.

    “Inhaled nicotine in cigarette smoke is over 98% absorbed 6, and so the exhaled mist of the e-cigarette is composed of propylene glycol, and probably contains almost no nicotine; and no CO. (see Figure 3.5) Lacking any active ingredient or any gaseous products of combustion, the PG mist or ‘smoke’ is not harmful to bystanders. The ‘smoke’ or mist is not tobacco smoke, and not from combustion – no flame is lit – and is not defined as environmental tobacco smoke. E-cigarette “smoking” would be permitted under New Zealand’s Smoke-free Environments Act 1990.”

    This is a study done purely on speculation. Dr. Talbot and his fellow researchers would have the FDA ban a product that allows individuals to choose not to satisfy their nicotine habit by smoking a real cigarette.

    Deaths from cigarettes per year — 400,000+
    Deaths from e-cigarette per year — 0
    Injuries reportered from e-cigarette per year — 0

  2. rothenbj says:

    “Electronic cigarettes (or e-cigarettes), also called “electronic nicotine delivery systems,”……..”

    That opening sentence itself tells you all you really need to know about this study. The only people that call an Electronic cigarette ENDS are WHO and the rest of tobacco control that see the pharmaceutical franchise being threatened by this innovative device.

    A product that actually gets people off cigarettes. A product that ex-smokers feel better using both physically and psychologically. However it isn’t an NRT product that has been sold so unsuccessfully for so many years. NRT with a success rate of around 2% after 20 months. A very successful product for the Pharma industry. Quit, smoke, quit, smoke, quit, smoke, die. Such a successful product line they have provided.

    If you’re going to spend the smoker’s money (and it is the smoker’s money that gets spent on these studies), spend it on studying toxicology, not design and marketing. These weren’t meant to be a nicotine cessation product, they are meant to be an alternative to smoking cigarettes. That they do very well.

    The money spent for this waste of “research time” would have been better spent with an unbiased researcher that would actually scientifically study rather than fill in the details on a predetermined conclusion.

  3. VapingMe says:

    I believe this was a poorly performed study. Repeat studies have come up with contradictory outcomes- one group decides that the nicotine is too high based on what we got in cigarettes, and the next says that vaping only delivers 10%. The same nicotine that they determine as hazardous in studies like this one is contained in the FDA-sanctioned gums, inhalers, lozenges, and patches.

    I’ve used vaping to stop a 30+ year smoking habits, and in less than two months was off nicotine completely. I have now cut back my use of the vaping to where it would probably be equivalent of a half pack a day (from my original starting point of two packs of cigarettes a day).

    I still enjoy it but there are dangers and risks that I would love to see addressed but instead the tilting at windmill crowd is after the nicotine (an approved substance for hundreds of years) and, of all the crazy things, the disposal, with apparently little concern about the electronic thermometers, BP monitors, glucometers, etc., all of which are used to treat and monitor diseases- which, in case the study authors were not aware, is what smoking addiction is.

    Frankly, if the most dangerous part of an ecig is that it has nicotine and has parts that need to be thrown away, well, that to me seems like a clean bill of health in these days of a whole class action industry built up around faulty medical equipment and toxic medications.

  4. VaporFREEDOM says:

    Not only do we have studies done like mentioned GC, but doctors from the AAPHP are also backing up the ecigarette as a harm reduction product vs real cigarettes.

    I was a 19 year slave to cigarettes with many failed attempts to quit using everything from the patch/pills/gums to cold turkey. I got my first quality electronic cigarette 7 months ago and quit smoking immediately. I noticed health improvements right away from not only breathing better, but getting more energy, sleeping improvement, since of smell, and cleanliness in my mouth allowed me to taste foods better.

    Fact – electronic cigarettes improved my life greatly! No way will I let anyone take this out of my hand =)

  5. Petrodus says:

    Lost in many discussions on E-cigarettes is the voice of the consumer

    My first exposure to Electronic Cigarettes was when I was surfing and noticed a link…”Electronic Cigarette” with a video. Put my cigarette in the ashtray and was on it like “The Last Chopper out of ‘Nam” and I spent the next 4 hours surfing and watching videos.

    After 40 years of smoking 2-3 packs a day…I stopped smoking cigarettes the day I purchased my E-cigarette. No withdrawal and never bought another pack. Never even wanted to smoke a regular cigarette again. For those who smoke cigarettes…You know this is the highest possible recommendation for any stop smoking (cigarettes) product.

    From first-hand experiences, read what 168 other users say about E-cigarettes. The comments have not been edited. Of course, this can’t be considered true science…Nothing more than 168 user comments from “We The People”

    Nicotine: Dr. William Sanborne (Mayo Clinic) and Dr. Paul Newhouse (University of Vermont) discusses potential therapeutic uses of nicotine in a story regarding the health effects of nicotine from Radio Health Journal (AUDIO, 12:13)

    Research results from studies on Propylene Glycol
    Now that you have the information, the justification that we “do not know” is No longer acceptable.,9171,932876,00.html


    Big Brother and the Tobacco companies couldn’t care less about Nicotine patches, Nicotine gum, Acupuncture, Hypnosis and other methods used to stop smoking cigarettes. The reason is obvious. The 5% (+/-) success rate is so small it has little impact on their money trails.

    Now here comes the University of California “study” declaring E-cigarettes are not safe. Your “study” is an Embarrassment to all those involved with “true scientific research”.

    How does government intervention get sold to citizens? First, publicize a “crisis” and warn that dire consequences will follow without some immediate changes. Push people into changing their choices voluntarily with social pressure and warnings of impending disaster. At some point, declare those efforts insufficient and propose government intervention as the only way to save people from themselves.

    It is interesting to see that the FDA’s “modus operandi” has been consistent: Label anything that doesn’t come from one of their sponsors as a “new drug”, seize it, and then attempt to bully the company out of existence.

    Releasing your “so-called” Study (in my humble opinion) is irresponsible because many who smoke will consider the “Alarmist Title” and the source (a well known University) and not try E-cigarettes. A resent web search shows your alarmist incorrect “news release” has been copied and pasted and referenced on many websites (as truth).

    Electronic cigarettes will save Millions of lives, providing the FDA doesn’t make them illegal.

    George Carlin: If Honesty were suddenly introduced into American life, the whole system would collapse.

    Thomas Jefferson: Money, not morality, is the principle commerce of civilized nations.

  6. Jim says:

    This “so called study” is ridiculous.

    Any child of 10 surfing the Web can easily find the truth!

  7. Duane Greene says:

    This looks like junk science.
    Perhaps you should have spent some time studying the website:
    The device allowed me to quit cigarettes, cold turkey, over two months ago.
    The device saved my life…why no mention of the positive aspects of this new technology?
    Probably because “Big Tobacco” has a hand in this “study”.
    I hope this isn’t the end-all of your research.
    I’m very disappointed in the lack of actual “research” done, before you decided to conclude e-cigs were “unsafe”.

  8. Shocked says:

    Hmmm… Sounds to me like some good old anti e-cigarette propaganda.

  9. UsedToVape says:

    Just to be clear, there is a concerted effort to drown out any discussion of the issue and all vapers are encouraged to post here and therefore present a somewhat lopsided view of the vaping community.

    FWIW, the nicotine is probably safe, but those chemicals in the flavorings are potentially the cause of a whole lot of trouble, not to mention rogue juice sellers whipping things up unregulated, using whatever grade of nicotine they can get the cheapest, mixing it up haphazardly. Without regulation, you may or may not be getting the amount of nicotine you think you are. You may or may not be getting USP grade base ingredients. The best you can hope for his FDA GRAS flavoring, which just means it’s approved for swallowing not inhaling. Please stop kidding yourselves.

  10. Jim says:

    UsedToVape…”Safe and Clean”

    The phrase “Safe and Clean” is relative. The water that comes out of the kitchen taps in our homes is “Safe and Clean.” The air we breathe is “Safe and Clean.”

    FDA approved drugs are (tongue in cheek) “Safe”

    Did you just raise an eyebrow?

  11. PoliticallyIncorrect says:

    Regarding UsedToVape’s comment (not to mention his/her tacit, apocryphal claim to be a reformed vapor), my intention in posting an appeal to be heard is simply that; as with UC Health’s piece, most reporting has heretofore been, at minimum, distorted; more often outright lies are disseminated, both by commission and omission. As vapors, our only recourse to being forced by FDA benevolence back into the arms of Big Tobacco is information; it’s the only antidote we have to the propagation of misinformation, be it deliberate or simply negligent.

    Ironically, UsedToVape provides an exemplar of precisely the sort of twisted reality we’re seeking to correct: my call for vapors to enter the discussion in a grassroots manner becomes–after passing through his/her kaleidoscope–an effort by a minuscule number to somehow overpower the FDA, academia at large and their handlers: Big Pharma and Big Tobacco.

    Next, he/she purports–in his/her Straw Man method-of-operation–to know my motivation: to misrepresent the vaping community.

    In point of fact, I’m asking the vaping community to represent THEMSELVES in an environment where only ignorance has heretofore passed the muster of governmental and academic opinion making.

  12. StillVaping says:

    UsedToVape, are you back on the cigarettes? There is not a concerted effort to “drown out any discussion”. There is a concerted effort to present the “unfunded” side of the discussion because it’s obvious you & yours are not going to. You use a lot of “probably”, “potentially”, “may”, “may not” for someone so sure of your stance. Might you be kidding yourself? BTW… the article is crap.

  13. Petrodus says:

    There is an “Outstanding” discussion on the Examiner page regarding this study with many posts and replies. Excellent open discussion

    Here is the link

  14. Petrodus says:

    Collectively, the vaping community is the most informed group on the subject of E-cigarettes on the planet. That’s not a brag…it’s just the truth.

    How many lives have to be lost before the “Truth” is officially proclaimed?

    All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher (1788 – 1860)

  15. Google says:

    Love the scary “Logo” you chose for the so-called study

    A leaking cartridge inside the cellophane wrap.

    Subject for the next “Study”

    How about going to the grocery store and checking out how many milk containers are leaking in the coolers. Many times I have picked up a milk jug and noticed it leaking from a small “puncture”.

    You could take a picture of a leaking milk jug and proclaim the milk could be getting contaminated Then release the results of this “study” with a picture of the leaking milk jug.

    Study: Milk found to be unsafe & pose health risks

    Sounds kinda “Silly”…Doesn’t it?

  16. Kate says:

    Unfortunately the tobacco control industry is firing all guns at ecigs even though they are none of their business because the product makes them obsolete. It is global tobacco control industry policy to capture the recreational nicotine market and destroy it.

    The lies are too obvious Ms Talbot, you couldn’t possibly conclude the headline from checking the packaging. Nor can you explain why medical nicotine products cause more deaths than ecigs –

    Ecigs are not unregulated, they are covered by commercial consumer protection laws. What you did was repeat the exercise UK trading standards officers went through two years ago. They removed one product from the market for faulty packaging. Four toxicology tests proved ecigs safe, packaging and other consumer safety laws were enforced and the market is hunky dory.

    The agenda is obvious. Tobacco control wants to kill more millions to keep their empire running. You wiped smokeless cigarettes off the market in 1987 and when you do the same with ecigs it will be an admission that tobacco control is not interested in public health but psychopathic control freakery, murder and money.

    What you can’t beat is the black market and anarchy will always win.

  17. Prragmatic says:

    Wow!! Great news to hear that the flavorings have been declared safe for vaping. Does that mean that all the popcorn makers will be putting diacetyl back in their popcorn, the candy makers will start using it again, and the FDA will cancel their current inquiry into having it removed from the safe list.

    Wow. This is indeed good news. Up until now I thought the only testing that had been done was the study from New Zealand which showed some specific carcinogens which the liquid did not contain but did not say much about what other ones were in their and the impact on lungs. I’m glad to hear that science has caught up with technology and has declared the juice safe for inhalation.

    Could you please put the links up for those studies so that I can spread that good word? I’d like to link it on my Facebook and blogs, and I’ll get my kids to do it, too, so we can put those silly people concerned about what they’re inhaling in their proper places.

  18. John says:

    I’m wondering how much money the producers of this study and the org. they work for receive from Tobacco corporations or Pharmaceutical.

  19. Bear says:

    I Smell a RAT

    The ALARMIST “Title” for this study, coupled with the very successful plan to network this propaganda all over the Net, stinks of an anti E-cigarette campaign…dreamed up by and funded by Big Tobacco.

    The marketing plan to spread this garbage all over the Net worked!

    It’s not going to stop the E-cigarette movement. All it did was set it back a little and we now have to do more work spreading the truth. We’ve grown accustomed to dealing with lies and mis-information.

    Many will now continue to smoke tobacco and not try E-cigarettes due to your valiant efforts. However, it is understood, its all about money and nothing to do with health.

    We give you an “F” on your research report card. However, a big KUDOS on spreading lies and mis-information.

  20. Bear says:

    Breaking News
    December 07, 2010 – 2:00 PM EST
    FDA Loses Appeal, Can’t Regulate E-Cigarettes as Drug

    That means the FDA will NOT be given the power to Ban E-cigarettes.

    Sometimes, truth really does win


  21. Google says:

    An investigation would probably reveal that the Univ. of CA has a Pharmacy bursary – “Big Tobacco” pays the bill. Big Pharmacy is the organ grinder and the University of California is their little monkey.

  22. johnash118 says:

    When I first read this article i literally “laughed” at it. I also find some of the comments on here regarding safety issues to be either misinformed or propagandic. Are e-cigs bad for us, probably a little bit – but cigarettes are totally lethal, as many have pointed out, I prefer to chose a less lethal option even if it isnt 100% safe. The real issue vapers are trying to point out to the propagandics and the “bury their head in the sand” non smokers is that we should have the freedom to choose. all those of the correct age have the freedom to choose to smoke lethal cigarettes and drink excessive harmful and fatal amounts of alcohol, so why should we not be able to choose a clearly less harmful alternative to cigarettes? simply answer, government revenues from taxes will be harmed significantly. I wish someone with the power to be heard by a government would ask one simple question. Q. hang on a minute; how much do we make from tobbacco taxes? but how much do we spend on smoking related illnesses.
    The article posted here is clearly showing that the real problem IS quality control – if you read the forums I dont think youll find a single vapor who doesnt welcome this. The problem is that this article has been deliberatly worded to suggest that e-cigs and the ingredients are dangerous, this is one of the definitions of propaganda because the only thing it shows is a need for QC. As for those who claim there is no proof of the safety of the ingredients in liquids, it depends on the company you buy from. For example: I only buy from the two UK companies who have full safety certification and are subject to regular toxicology and safety tests by the BSA and other regulatory companies. It is logical to research who you buy from for any products in existence.
    If I bought a generic make of stereo I am taking more of a chance that it is not up to the high quality and safety standards of lets say sony.
    The point is, in all consumer goods there are good makes and bad makes of the same product. A report that focuses only on a bad one and negates to balance it with a good one is a biased and propagandic report. It is also disheartening when I have read on some ill informed sites that PG is toxic and lethal – the reason being that these idiots have simply looked up the words propylene glycol and not bothered to notice that there are different types of propylene and different types of glycol, they did not differentiate one from another but focused on the highly toxic one which is not the one used in e-cigs. If governments proport to ban e-cigs because they may be vaguely harmfull then surely for the sake of non-hypocracy – they must ban evrything that may be considered bad for you, including cigarettes! I have much more to say but this will do for now.