American Lung Association Statement on E-Cigarettes

The American Lung Association is very concerned about the potential safety and health consequences of electronic cigarettes, as well as claims that they can be used to help smokers quit. There is no government oversight of these products and absent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversight, there is no way for the public health, medical community or consumers to know what chemicals are contained in e-cigarettes or what the short and long term health implications might be. That’s why the American Lung Association has called on the Obama Administration to halt its delay and for the FDA to propose meaningful regulation of these products to protect to the public health.

The FDA has not approved e-cigarettes as a safe or effective method to help smokers quit. When smokers are ready to quit, they should call 1-800-QUIT NOW or talk with their doctors about using one of the seven FDA-approved medications proven to be safe and effective in helping smokers quit.

A study has estimated that there are 250 different e-cigarette brands for sale in the U.S. today. There is likely to be wide variation in the chemicals that each contain, but in initial lab tests conducted by the FDA in 2009, detectable levels of toxic cancer-causing chemicals were found, including an ingredient used in anti-freeze, in two leading brands of e-cigarettes and 18 various cartridges. That is why it is so urgent for FDA to begin its regulatory oversight of e-cigarettes, which would include ingredient disclosure by e-cigarette manufacturers to FDA.

Also unknown is what the potential harm may be to people exposed to secondhand emissions from e-cigarettes. Two initial studies have found formaldehyde, benzene and tobacco-specific nitrosamines (a carcinogen) coming from those secondhand emissions. While there is a great deal more to learn about these products, it is clear that there is much to be concerned about, especially in the absence of FDA oversight.