The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has acted to protect public health from electronic cigarettes by seeking to block importation of these products and to inform the public about the potential health risks of these products.
The FDA announced Wednesday during a press briefing that a laboratory analysis of electronic cigarette samples found that they contain carcinogens and toxic chemicals, such as diethylene glycol, an ingredient used in antifreeze, according to Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.
The FDA has asserted its authority to regulate these products, which deliver nicotine, under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
Electronic cigarettes have not been tested for safety or approved by the FDA for sale in the U.S., but manufacturers have been marketing and selling these products in stores and shopping mall kiosks throughout the U.S., as well as on the Internet.
Opponents to electronic cigarettes worry that the product could serve as a pathway to nicotine for kids, as they are available online and in shopping malls, and come in flavors such as bubblegum, cookies and cream and cola. Currently, electronic cigarettes are not subject to age verification laws. Opponents also protest that the products risk deterring current smokers from quitting by providing an alternative source of nicotine in places where smoking is not allowed. Those in favor of the electronic cigarettes say the FDA should reveal that the product is far safer-some estimate 99% safer-than other tobacco products, and that because it does not result in harmful second hand smoke, poses no danger to others.
“No one is suggesting that these products should never be allowed on the market; rather, like other consumer products, electronic cigarettes should be regulated to protect public health before they are permitted to be sold to consumers,” said Matthew Myers, president, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids in a statement.