E-cigarettes are in the news. State and federal officials continue to seek scientific data to understand the effect these devices have on consumers. We think there are things you should know about e-cigarettes.
E-cigarettes are battery powered devices that are disposable or have refillable cartridges that contain a liquid (e-juice) of propolene glycol or glycerin and nicotine and/or other chemicals that is heated using the battery and produce an aerosol that is breathed and exhaled.
They were invented and patented in China within the last 10 years and most of them are manufactured there.
Some contain nicotine and some do not. There are a wide variety of e-cigarettes on the market and they’re called by a variety of names, including vape pens and e-hookahs.
E-cigarettes often emulate traditional cigarettes and they can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some light up on the end to look like a traditional cigarette in bright colors such as orange and blue.
The liquid inside e-cigarettes that is breathed in comes in a variety of flavors, from traditional tobacco flavors to Atomic Fireball, cotton candy, grape, and peach, to name a few.
E-cigarettes are not currently regulated by the federal government, and it’s the wild, wild West out there as far as how much we know about how much nicotine e-cigarettes contain or what chemicals are in them.
Here are some things we do know:
E-cigarettes do not contain the tar of traditional cigarettes, but we don’t know exactly what they do contain. Much more research on e-cigarettes needs to be done to know exactly how the human body reacts to using e-cigarettes. The FDA does have the authority to regulate e-cigarettes, thanks to a federal lawsuit that the tobacco companies lost in recent years. The FDA has said they will regulate them as tobacco products, but has not yet issued rules to do so.
In South Dakota, we were successful in fighting Big Tobacco’s work to put e-cigarettes in a special category, and we were able to amend a bad bill into legislation that classifies e-cigarettes containing nicotine as tobacco products and prevents kids from buying e-cigarettes in South Dakota beginning July 1. We continue to communicate to elected officials that we need a lot more research into e-cigarettes and their effects, and we continue to urge the Obama administration to issue the FDA rules regulating e-cigs as tobacco.