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E-Cigarettes Pose a Health Hazard, FDA Warns
Date:7/22/2009

Agency says testing shows devices contain carcinogens, other toxins

WEDNESDAY, July 22 (HealthDay News) -- Testing of electronic cigarettes, known as e-cigarettes, has shown that they contain cancer-causing chemicals and other toxins, including a compound used in antifreeze, U.S. health officials said Wednesday.

E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that contain cartridges filled with nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals. "The device turns nicotine, which is highly addictive, into a vapor that is inhaled," according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

And these products could encourage smoking, the agency warned.

Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, FDA's principal deputy commissioner, said in a news conference Wednesday that "public health experts, including the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Cancer Society, have expressed concerns about the safety of these products and the risk that electronic cigarettes may increase nicotine addiction among young people and ultimately lead kids to try conventional cigarettes."

The FDA analyzed the ingredients in a small sample of cartridges from two brands of electronic cigarettes marketed by U.S. companies: Njoy, of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Florida-based Smoking Everywhere, according to Benjamin Westenberger, deputy director of the pharmaceutical analysis division at the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, part of the FDA.

Although e-cigarettes are sold in the United States, they are manufactured overseas, mostly in China.

In one sample, analyses detected diethylene glycol, an antifreeze component. In several other samples, analysts found carcinogens, including nitrosamines, Westenberger noted.

"All of these results indicate an overall lack of quality control," he said. "These results indicate that these e-cigarettes could have safety and quality concerns."

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