E-cigarettes, also called “e-cigs,” are handheld devices made up of a cartridge containing a battery-powered coil that heats up nicotine, turning it into vapor. E-cigarettes stimulate the feeling of smoking but the user inhales vapor instead of smoke. The nicotine liquid inside of the cartridge is called “e-liquid” and is a mix of nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerin and flavorings.
E-cigarettes were first introduced in China in 2004, and then entered the United States and Europe in 2006 and 2007. Thought to be a fad at first, they’ve increased in popularity in the last few years and created a booming, multibillion-dollar industry.
How are e-cigarettes regulated?
The simple answer is that e-cigarettes are not yet regulated. The industry as a whole is unregulated in the United States and most of Europe. This means that there are no requirements for what can and can’t go into the device and its liquid.
Some countries have completely banned e-cigarettes like Brazil and Singapore, and in Canada they are illegal to sell – although that policy is rarely enforced. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has proposed regulations but they have not yet gone into effect.
Are there dangers associated with e-cigarettes?
Because the FDA does not regulate the product, there is no way to know for sure what chemicals are in the products and how they can affect a user’s health. Long-term effects are completely unknown. Early studies show that e-cigarettes contain cancer-causing chemicals like formaldehyde, and large doses of nicotine can be poisonous.
E-cigarettes are also dangerous to children and young consumers. Candy e-liquid flavors target the product to younger people. The sweet flavors are also enticing to very young children — in at least one case, a child died from e-cigarette poisoning from ingesting e-liquid. Direct skin or eye exposure to the e-liquid can cause acute nicotine toxicity.
E-cigarette explosions are also becoming increasingly common. Lawsuits have been filed against e-cigarette manufacturers for causing serious damage to users when the cartridge has blown up, causing burns to users’ extremities and even amputation. This issue is another result of the industry not being regulated or having safeguards in place to enforce proper designs and warnings.
If you or a loved one has been impacted by the dangers of e-cigarettes, call Roberts & Roberts toll free to set up a consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers.