FDA Finds Toxins, Carcinogens in Electronic Cigarettes

Article excerpt

The Food and Drug Administration has determined that electronic cigarettes marketed by two manufacturers contained carcinogens, varying amounts of nicotine, and impurities such as diethylene glycol.

Since July 2008, the agency has been seizing shipments of the so-called "e-cigarettes" at the United States border and analyzing them. It has determined that the e-cigarettes meet the legal definition of a drug and a device, and therefore, are being illegally sold. However, the FDA has not, as of yet, taken any additional action, agency officials said in a briefing earlier this summer with reporters. The agency is considering additional steps, said Michael Levy, division director of the Office of Compliance at the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

The FDA held the briefing to alert the public to its laboratory findings and express concern that the products may be used by children as a gateway to cigarettes, said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, principal deputy commissioner.

Battery powered, electronic cigarettes vaporize chemicals contained in a cartridge; users inhale the vapor.

The FDA analyzed 19 cartridges made by Smoking Everywhere and NJOY. The agency found detectable levels of tobacco-specific nitrosamines--which are known human carcinogens--in half the samples. Most samples also contained impurities known to be toxic to humans, such as anabasine, myosmine, and beta-nicotyrine. One cartridge contained 1% diethylene glycol, a toxic component of antifreeze. …