Don’t be fooled by electronic cigarettes


It is not uncommon these days to see a blue or red glow at the end of a cigarette instead of the traditional burning light and crimpling ash. 

Use of electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, which vaporize liquid infused with glycerin, flavoring and nicotine, has become a growing trend in the U.S. – but not without suspicion of being a threat in disguise.

The New York Times reported in 2013 that the e-cigarette market is worth $1.7 billion. 

According to statistics approved by UBS, a global financial servicer, Wells Fargo and the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, 2.5 million people smoke e-cigarettes in the U.S.

While e-cigarettes are often boasted as a “safe” and playful substitute for a traditional cigarette, their recent popularity calls for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to finally enforce regulations for its use based on known health hazards. 

So far, a handful of Democratic Senators proposed a bill that would prevent the advertisement of e-cigarettes in order to keep in line with the effort to decrease
underage smoking. 

Though doing so is worthwhile, the current reputation of e-cigarettes as being less dangerous than regular cigarettes misinforms users of this product, whether or not they use it as attempt to
quit smoking.

The FDA’s website states “potential risks” of e-cigarettes are unknown; however, its 2009 study shows it might want to reconsider its definition of “risk.”

The study determined 50 percent of e-cigarette samples contained carcinogens, or cancer-causing substances, and toxic chemicals found in regular cigarettes. 

It also found these e-cigarettes contained diethylene glycol, a toxin found in anti-freeze.

The FDA currently regulates e-cigarettes used for “therapeutic purposes.” However, since these samples contained dangerous chemicals also seen in regular cigarettes, e-cigarettes are clearly not “safe” and call for standard cigarette regulation.

Without federal intervention, individual states use guesswork to apply their own regulations, which include banning e-cigarette use in public areas and even taxing them. New York, New Jersey and Utah, among other states, already ban the use of e-cigarettes in locations where smoking is
not allowed. 

However, Craig Weiss, CEO of e-cigarette manufacturer NJOY, suggests imposing taxes on the product will make e-cigarette smokers equate the cost of smoking a traditional Marlboro cigarette to that of an e-cigarette, an effect he thinks will cost the health of smokers.

These inconsistencies in state regulations likely stem from different perspectives on danger levels.

Though the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health deems propylene glycol, a chemical found in e-cigarette “smoke,” risky to inhale, some believe the vapors are less worrisome than cigarette smoke because they do not contain carbon monoxide and other carcinogens.

The FDA should stop tiptoeing around the subject of e-cigarettes by saying it will soon embark on a plan. Moreover, legislation should launch a more forceful initiative, as the European Parliament did last week in establishing regulations on e-cigarettes, such as banned advertisements, labeled safety warnings and a limit of nicotine in the product. 

While cigarette smoking without a doubt is considered a health risk, a full understanding and consensus of the adverse effects of e-cigarettes has not been established, and those who prefer e-cigarettes should be aware of their known dangers.

Isabelle Cavazos is a sophomore majoring in English.