Feb 18 2015

Boom In E-Cigarettes Sparks Calls For Regulation

Published by at 7:48 am under Smoking ban

nside a basement shop in Washington, D.C., on a bustling street filled with restaurants and nightclubs, a hazy cloud with the sweet scent of cotton candy and vanilla custard lingers in the air. Two men are sitting at a tasting bar smoking the latest flavors of “e-juice,” while the shop manager “vapes” on his electronic cigarette, or “box mod” device, behind the counter.

The back wall is lined with hundreds of 10–15-mL eyedropper bottles, each with a colorful, eye-catching label announcing an enticing flavor. Melon head, razzletaz, serious kiwi, Swedish fish, gummy bear, taste the rainbow—the list goes on. The vials contain e-juice, a liquid concoction of varying amounts of nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerin, and food-grade flavorings. The juice is heated inside battery-operated, refillable devices that come in myriad sizes, colors, shapes, and styles. Nicotine in the e-juice, as well as any flavors, is aerosolized and inhaled by the user.

Vaping shops and lounges such as this one are popping up all over the U.S., representing about one-third of the e-cigarette market, which was estimated at $2.2 billion in 2014. The devices they sell, called tanks or mods, are typically much larger and have stronger batteries than the slim first-generation e-cigarettes, or “cigalikes.” And unlike cigalikes, which come in traditional flavors such as tobacco and menthol, tanks and mods can be filled with any of the thousands of commercially available e-juice flavors.

A growing community of vapers and e-cigarette manufacturers is touting e-cigarettes as a way to help people quit smoking traditional cigarettes. There are lots of testimonials and anecdotal evidence that vaping has helped people quit smoking but little scientific data to back up the claim. Likewise, little is known about the long-term health risks of e-cigarettes or whether the multitude of candy and fruit flavors with catchy names will lead nonsmokers, particularly young people, to pick up a nicotine addiction. Most scientists say, however, that e-cigarettes are likely to be safer than cigarettes because compared with cigarette smoke, e-cigarette aerosol contains fewer toxic chemicals and at much lower concentrations.
By Britt E. Erickson, Cen.acs.org


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