Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, may contain 10 times the amount of carcinogens when compared to regular tobacco, according to Japanese researchers. And even worse, they’re most popular among young people and those trying to quit smoking.
Electronic cigarette sales have blown through the roof, in fact, the industry hit $2 billion in 2013, tripling its figures from the year before. Some think that electronic cigarettes may actually surpass cigarettes in popularity within the next decade and that’s a big market to fill.
E-cigarettes work by heating a flavored liquid that contains nicotine into a vapor which is then inhaled–like cigarettes but without the smoke. Researchers have found that e-cigarettes may contain chemicals like formaldehyde, a known carcinogen used in building materials and embalming fluids.
“In one brand of e-cigarette the team found more than 10 times the level of carcinogens contained in one regular cigarette,” said researcher Naoki Kunugita to AFP, adding that the amount of formaldehyde detected varied through the course of analysis.
“Especially when the… wire (which vaporises the liquid) gets overheated, higher amounts of those harmful substances seemed to be produced.”
Japan, like many other countries does not regulate e-cigarettes because so little is known about them. In the U.S., they’re also unregulated even though FDA is currently looking into them. Companies don’t have to list ingredients and some have been found to contain diethylene glycol, an ingredient found in antifreeze.
In August, the World Health Organization called for governments to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors warning of the risk to unborn children and young people. Additionally, a United Nations health body said they should be banned from public indoor spaces.
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