In a study reported on March 2 by The Journal of the American Medical Association, Pediatrics, underage children were able to purchase electronic cigarettes online with an astounding 93.7 percent success rate.
The minors, aged 14 to 17, made supervised attempts at purchasing “e-cigs” at the University of North Carolina, where the study was held. The delivery companies made no attempt to verify age, and 95 percent of the packages were left at the door. None of the companies complied with North Carolina’s age verification law for online cigarette sales.
As the electronic cigarette industry continues to grow without significant regulation – it’s now a $2 billion per year industry – it’s important to correct the perceptions and understand the risks, so people can make informed decisions. This study analyzed the claims of various e-cigarette retail brands, revealing that 95 percent said they’re healthier and cleaner; both claims are unsupported.
E-cigarettes commonly contain nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerol, flavorings and other chemicals. This study showed that when heated/vaporized, propylene glycol forms propylene oxide, a probable human carcinogen according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Another study revealed metal and silicate particles present in the cartomizer fluid and aerosol. The chemical flavorings are “Generally Recognized as Safe” by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but that’s based on ingestion – not inhalation.
Although more short-term studies have emerged over the past year, it’s difficult to understand long-term effects at this point.
The unregulated nature of the industry presents quality-control issues – there’s no confirmation of what’s actually inside the products. E-cigarette companies are also allowed to advertise on television and radio, something that tobacco companies have been banned from doing for decades. Modern teens have never experienced this heavy marketing for a product that contains addictive nicotine. One of the dangers is e-cigarettes opening up teens to real cigarettes, many of which may have never considered them before.
The growth of the industry and the marketing efforts are making increased research and oversight of e-cigs and their sale a necessity.