The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued this week a warning to users of so-called "electronic cigarettes." The FDA said that laboratory analysis of leading brands of e-cigarettes they tested found that:
"they contain carcinogens and toxic chemicals such as diethylene glycol, an ingredient used in antifreeze."
Hmm, that sounds really appealing.
E-cigarettes, the FDA says,
"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."
A better description of what they are and how they work is given here at the LA Times:
"E-cigarettes are promoted by their manufacturers as safer than traditional cigarettes because they do not burn tobacco. Instead, a lithium battery in the cigarette-shaped device heats a solution of nicotine in propylene glycol, producing a fine mist that can be inhaled to deliver nicotine directly to the lungs. An LED glows red at the tip and they even emit puffs of white smoke similar to that seen in stage shows."
The business is a booming one, growing from $10 million to $100 million over the last year, the LA Times says. As the FDA notes, much of the marketing is aimed at children and young adults.
The E-cigarette was invented by Hon Lik and marketed by the Ruyan Group Holdings, Ltd., which aggressively protects its patent rights.
Calling it an "electronic" cigarette is probably a good marketing ploy, since whenever I see someone using one it looks more like they are smoking an LED flashlight.
While the FDA has not said how it plans to move forward on e-cigarettes, I would bet that the agency will start looking hard at how it can restrict how such devices can be marketed to children and young adults at the very least.