Buffalo, NY - E-Cigarettes are now a billion dollar a year industry unregulated by the FDA. Roswell Park just completed two studies on e-cigarettes and the nicotine found in them.
One study looked at third-hand nicotine exposure. That is the residue left on surfaces after someone smokes inside.
The other looked at whether the nicotine content listed on e-cigarette labels is accurate.
Dr. Mark Travers is a Roswell Park Research Scientist. While he says e-cigarettes are promising for those trying to quit smoking traditional cigarettes, he says they are not 100-percent safe because there are still trace amounts of harmful chemicals in many of them.
The first study found third-hand nicotine from e-cigarettes can sometimes become more cancer-causing over time. That study also found a great deal of the nicotine in the vapor ends up on the surfaces in a room. That means you could walk into a room where someone was vaping, and it will not smell like regular cigarette smoke, but you could still be exposed to harmful chemicals.
The second study found that what's on the label isn't always what's in the product.
"This is a little bit troubling because these devices currently are not regulated by the FDA or any governing body, so when they state that there's a certain amount of nicotine in a cartridge, really it's just a leap of faith at this point whether or not that's true and our testing has shown that the levels can be of by 20-percent or more and in some cases, products that are supposed to have no nicotine in them, do still have nicotine in the cartridge when we test them in a laboratory," says Dr. Travers.
Travers thinks e-cigs will be regulated as tobacco products, not as a tool to help people quit smoking.
A lot of people vape to quit smoking, but others do it because they like the taste and they are using the liquid that is supposed to be nicotine-free. With some of the packaging mislabeled, Travers says that could lead to potential health problems.
"If you're someone that's not an addicted smoker, and you're looking to use the product just because you want to use the type of device perhaps for the flavoring or the experience, but not get the nicotine exposure, well, you may be in for a bit of a surprise. You may actually get significant nicotine exposure and that could lead to addiction down the road," says Dr. Travers.
Travers says you should exercise caution when using these products. He also remains optimistic there will be greater regulation moving forward.