We don’t know what’s in e-cigarettes.
That’s what we’ve been told by legislators and anti-nicotine campaigners seeking to ban electronic cigarettes, although it contradicts Professor Siegel’s assertion that actually scientists know exactly what is in eliquid, but are still unsure about what’s in tobacco smoke, with hundreds of chemicals yet to be identified.
Now a new study found that the “the quality of refill liquids for electronic cigarettes is surprisingly good.”
Professor J F Etter, who has a fairly neutral stance on electronic cigarettes, along with Eva ZÄTHER and Sofie SVENSSON, analysed 20 bottles of eliquid, focussing on nicotine content and impurities
They found that half of the bottles tested were of medicinal standard.
Other bottles tested contained more impurities than medicinal nicotine solutions, but Professor Etter concluded:
If they are compared with tobacco, not with nicotine medications, the presence of impurities in e-liquids is less relevant, because even if e-liquids contained the level of impurities found in this study, ‘vaping’ (using e-cigarettes) would still be much less dangerous than smoking.
The full study can be purchased here.
The full text of the press release follows (unfortunately, I have no link to the press release as this was sent to me by email):
New research finds that the quality of refill liquids for electronic cigarettes is surprisingly good
Sales of electronic cigarettes have tripled in the U.S. every year since 2007. Financial analysts attribute some of the recent decrease in cigarette sales in the U.S. to the success of e-cigarettes, and some of them think that sales of e-cigarettes will surpass sales of tobacco cigarettes in the next decade. However, relatively little is known about refill liquids for electronic cigarettes (e-liquids). ln a study published online by the scientific journal Addiction, researchers from the University of Geneva (Switzerland) and from McNeil (Helsingborg, Sweden), a manufacturer of nicotine medications, analyzed some of the most popular brands of e-liquids, purchased on the Internet. The researchers analyzed nicotine content and nicotine-related degradation products and impurities (but not the other components in e-liquids). They found that half of the 20 bottles of e-liquids that they analyzed were acceptable as medicinal products. The other half contained up to five times the maximum amount of impurities specified for nicotine medications. Contrary to previous research, they also found that the nicotine content in the bottles corresponded to the labels on the bottles. Professor Jean-François Etter, one of the authors, said: “The quality of some brands was surprisingly good. However, for some brands of e-liquids at least, the manufacturing process or control systems are probably below required standards for nicotine medications”. Electronic cigarettes are a new galenic formulation developed to administer a range of substances, but they are not currently regulated as medicinal products in any country. Rather, they are regulated as tobacco products or consumer products. If they are compared with tobacco, not with nicotine medications, the presence of impurities in e-liquids is less relevant, because even if e-liquids contained the level of impurities found in this study, ‘vaping’ (using e-cigarettes) would still be much less dangerous than smoking. The success of electronic cigarettes challenges the current legislation, which allows nicotine only in tobacco and in nicotine medications.
The scientific article:
Jean-François ETTER, Eva ZÄTHER and Sofie SVENSSON. “Analysis of refill liquids for electronic cigarettes”. Addiction, 2013, 108: DOI: 10.1111/add.12235
Link to the article: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.
Professor Jean-François ETTER, Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva, IMSP-CMU, 1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland.