E-cigs worry the FDA: Are they still the better option?

Aminesh Chavan
Staff Writer

Photo by TBEC Review via wikimedia.org

There is a new trend now which is ubiquitous almost everywhere you go. I am talking about the use of E-Cigs, aka “vaping.” To those who do not have any idea about them, electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) are battery powered vaporizers that stimulate the feeling of smoking but without the need of tobacco by allowing users to inhale aerosol (vapor), containing nicotine with a range of flavors.  The majority of people who use e-cigs have turned to them as a nicotine replacement or a “safer” alternative to smoking cigarettes.

Unfortunately, there is a growing concern within the FDA and the office of the Surgeon General over e-cigs.  The concern is not as much about the e-cig but rather the “worry” is focused on the chemical makeup of the 7,700+ flavors of e-cigarettes currently on the market. The common chemical found in these flavorings by researchers at Harvard University are 2,3-pentanedione, acetoin and diacetyl. The researchers are now calling for “urgent action” due to evidence of respiratory problems in users. The chemicals destroy the lungs’ tiniest airways, leading to scar tissue buildup that blocks airflow within the lungs. This can result in a permanent and usually fatal lung condition known as Bronchiolitis Obliterans.


Photo by Vaping360 via flickr.com

The unfortunate part is that the FDA cannot make a strong case to have some type of regulatory infrastructure for the e-cig flavoring. This is perplexing to some because of all the supporting research and data. Even though most research has found the same harmful chemicals in their analysis of e-cig flavorings, the results from these various studies have not been consistent in the concentration of the harmful chemicals.

This means the brands and companies in the e-cig industry can sell the flavoring without disclosing what is in them to the FDA or even having a warning label like “WARNING CONTAINS HARMFUL CHEMICALS” for the consumers. There is no transparency for the consumer, leaving them in the dark even though the product may maybe harmful to their health immediately or long-term. So even though e-cigs may seem like a “better” alternative to regular cigarette, it does come with its own risk.


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