Official: E-cigarettes not recommended for quitting smoking

08-27-09 Electro Cig
Joanna Paterson of King Smoke on Broadway Road demonstrates the NJOY Electronic Cigarette. The battery-powered cigarettes emit an odorless mist, and its cartridges can be refilled with flavored nicotine or nicotine-free liquids.(Damien Maloney | The State Press)
Published On:
Thursday, August 27, 2009
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Though many smokers believe electronic cigarettes are designed to help them quit, such an assumption may be untrue, federal officials said.

Art senior Adam Pezen said he learned about e-cigarettes from online blogs and first tried them out of curiosity.

“My mom bought them because she had been a hardcore smoker for about 30 years,” Pezen said. “She passed [the habit] on to me.”

Pezen said he and his mother both still smoke tobacco cigarettes on a regular basis.

Smoking an e-cigarette is completely different than smoking the real thing and doesn’t satisfy the feeling smokers want when they have a cigarette, he said.

“You can feel a nicotine rush that is quite stronger than a real cigarette,” Pezen said.

The e-cigarettes are designed for only one long drag, which is different from traditional puffing.

The blogs Pezen read advocated e-cigarettes as the safe way to quit, but he said he doesn’t think they help people kick the habit.

He later tried e-cigarettes in an attempt to quit smoking but was unsuccessful.

The Food and Drug Administration is currently in a lawsuit with two different e-cigarette companies and does not endorse e-cigarettes, spokeswoman Siobhan DeLancey said.

“The most important thing to us is that we do believe that these are drug delivery devices,” said DeLancey. “They have not been through the typical drug review.”

Though e-cigarettes have not been through a drug review, they are still being sold nationwide and online.

Undeclared freshman Julianna Cossman said she saw e-cigarettes being sold in a mall in her home state of Pennsylvania.

“I think it is a silly concept,” said Cossman, a smoker who said she doesn’t think the product serves any purpose other than a new way to smoke.

DeLancey said the FDA would like to see e-cigarette companies come forward and bring their products in for clinical trials.

FDA scientists have bought the e-cigarettes and examined them, finding traces of nitrosamines (tobacco carcinogens) and ethylene glycol (an industrial antifreeze) in the devices studied, she said.

“We’re not sure what the effects of these chemicals would be on the human body,” DeLancey said.

The nitrosamines found in electronic cigarettes could be similar to those found in tobacco that are known to cause cancer, she said.

E-cigarette companies, such as Smoke Anywhere, claim the devices are designed as a tar-and-tobacco-free way to enjoy smoking and not intended to help users stop smoking.

However, Cossman said she feels the products are being marketed that way.

“My mom quit smoking using a similar product,” Cossman said.

However, the product that Cossman said her mother used allowed the smoker to control the nicotine level in the device.

In a July 22 press release, the FDA warned the public about e-cigarettes, saying the product contain toxins and doesn’t have a warning label on it. The release also said that the product comes in many different flavors, something that may appeal to young people.

DeLancey said any regulation of e-cigarettes by the FDA would depend on the outcome of clinical tests at the discretion of the producer.

“Until then, it’s a complete unknown,” she said.

Reach the reporter at ndgilber@asu.edu.