In 2008, the World Health Organization disputed claims that electronic cigarettes can help people quit smoking. Still, E-cigarette companies continue to market themselves as a safe alternative.
A friend first offered Mathew Dowden an electronic cigarette. He vividly remembers his first puff.
“It made me cough and hack and do one of these things,” Dowden said.
E-cigarettes work the same way as cigarettes except when the user inhales, a component inside the device heats and vaporizes liquid nicotine resulting in a puff of what looks like smoke. But it’s not smoke. So what’s really inside E-cigarettes?
“Obviously they have nicotine in them,” IU Asst. Professor Dept. of Applied Health Science Jon Macy said. “That’s the whole point. But they have found carcinogens, they’ve found diethylene glycol which is an antifreeze.”
But Jon Macy says E-cigarettes have fallen through the cracks of FDA regulation because they’re not considered drugs.
“Why use something that we don’t know anything about in terms of its safety when we do have these other products that we know that they work and we know that they’re safe?”
Macy says nicotine patches, gum and lozenges have undergone the rigorous scientific study the E-cigarette product is lacking. The absence of regulations means they can be sold anywhere- including online.
“Those of us in the health community are concerned that kids are going to get their hands on them and use them as kind of a starter nicotine product,” he said.
On Thursday, the National Association of Convenience stores recommended that electronic cigarettes be placed under the category of ‘Other Tobacco Products,’ which means retailers would have to card minors before purchasing E-cigarette products.