Senators warn of carcinogen risk with e-cigarettes

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 8, 2014 at 2:39 pm •  Published: May 8, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) — Eight members of the U.S. Senate are calling on the Food and Drug Administration to examine new research suggesting that some electronic cigarettes can produce dangerous carcinogens similar to those from traditional cigarettes.

In a letter sent Thursday, the Democratic lawmakers say that the FDA should work to protect e- cigarette users and those nearby from cancer-causing vapors apparently produced by high-powered nicotine devices, known as tank systems.

Electronic cigarettes mainly consist of a battery, heating coil and a tank that holds flavored liquid nicotine. As users puff on the e-cigarette, the battery heats the coil and the liquid is turned into a vapor that is inhaled like smoke from a traditional cigarette. Tank systems are generally larger e-cigarettes — about the size of an electronic toothbrush — that can hold more nicotine and an extended battery supply.

Studies first reported by The New York Times suggest that these devices get hot enough to produce toxic chemicals like formaldehyde, a carcinogen also found in traditional cigarettes.

E-cigarette proponents have argued that the devices are a safer alternative to cigarettes because they do not produce the smoke and tar caused by burning tobacco. But the new research by scientists at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute challenges that reasoning, at least for some products. The Buffalo, New York-based center's study is scheduled for publication later this month in the Nicotine and Tobacco Research journal, according to the Times.

The findings also raise questions about the potential hazards of e-cigarettes for non-users who inadvertently inhale their vapors. New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles have all recently instituted bans on the use of e-cigarettes in certain indoor areas and public places.

Last month the FDA announced it would begin regulating the emerging e-cigarette field. But the senators point out that the FDA's proposal focuses mainly on e-cigarette ingredients, rather than the vapors they produce.

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