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The FDA released a warning last week to consumers and health care professionals about the dangers of electronic cigarettes ("e-cigarettes"). Electronic cigarettes sampled by the FDA were found to contain known toxins, including one commonly found in anti-freeze and other known carcinogens.
First of all, what's an electronic cigarette? They are marketed as reducing the pollution and carcinogens involved in smoking by involving no smoke. Instead, nicotine in a cartridge is made into a vapor which users inhale. They are also promoted as an aid to quit smoking. They look like cigarettes, with some even lighting up at the end.
The problem is, however, that they appear to contain seriously harmful toxins.
The FDA sampled e-cigarettes from two of the top sellers of e-cigarettes. One sample contained diethylene glycol, a toxin commonly found in antifreeze. The others contained levels of known carcinogens including nitrosamines.
Because no maker or seller of electronic cigarettes has sought FDA approval, the FDA did not have complete access to information for any e-cigarette producer. This leaves consumers with a lack of information about what could be toxic products. They contain no health warning, unlike cigarettes and quitting aids, which must warn about health risks.
Beyond the risks toxic e-cigarettes themselves pose, another danger is that they lure youngsters into smoking. With sparkling lights on the tip, along with candied flavors like chocolate, cherry and mint, some argue that unregulated e-cigarettes (even if they weren't toxic) serve to hook kids on nicotine.