According to research by the Japanese Health Ministry, electronic cigarettes or “E-cigs” could be more dangerous than advertised. Japanese scientists revealed in a study that the vapor of some brands of e-cigarette fluids have up to ten times the level of carcinogen compared with regular tobacco.
Since being developed by a Chinese scientist in 2003, electronic cigarettes have been marketed as safer because smoke is not inhaled, only water vapor and nicotine. E-cigs are now a $3 billion dollar industry globally and use is growing rapidly, particularly among young people.
The Japanese Health Ministry's research highlights the possible dangers of supposedly safe e-cigs, namely the presence of the same carcinogenic chemicals found in regular cigarettes like formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and acrolein. Formaldehyde is found in everything from industrial materials to embalming fluid and can be dangerous to one’s health even in low doses.
Acetaldehyde is found in tobacco smoke as well, is water soluble and dissolves in saliva when users smoke. In 2013, the French magazine National Consumer Institute reported that it found acrolein, a toxic molecule, in e-cigarettes and sometimes at levels higher than traditional tobacco cigarettes.
Because of the relatively short period of time electronic cigarettes have been on the market, the long-term effects of using them are still unknown. Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate most e-cigs and many questions remain about the chemical contents of these products. Although the FDA regulates cigarettes, roll-your-own tobacco, smokeless tobacco, and cigarette tobacco, the FDA only regulates electronic cigarettes marketed for therapeutic purposes.
The FDA has issued a proposed rule that would extend regulation to electronic cigarettes, but the rule has not been enacted. The proposed rule would cover e-cigs, pipe tobacco, waterpipe tobacco, and some other products. If the FDA finalizes the proposed rule, the federal agency would be empowered to implement age restrictions and require scientific studies of new tobacco products. As it stands, consumers currently do not know the risks of e-cigarettes when used as intended, how much nicotine or other potentially harmful chemicals are being inhaled during e-cigarette use, or whether electronic cigarettes have any benefits.
The results of the Japanese study suggest that using e-cigs may be as dangerous as using traditional tobacco products . According to the study, e-cigs may cause congestive heart failure and increased risk of heart disease.