The Wild Wild West of e-cigarette manufacturing

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Researchers at the University of California, Riverside may as well tell smokers looking to switch to e-cigarettes to keep smoking regular cigarettes based on their study claiming that current versions of the cigarette alternative present a range of issues that pose possible public health risks. Published in today s online issue of Tobacco Control, the UC Riverside study looked at five brands of e-cigarette an electronic nicotine delivery system for design features, accuracy and clarity of labelling and the quality of instruction manuals and associated print material supplied by the manufacturers. The study authors said that they uncovered design flaws in some brands of the e-cigarettes, noticed inadequate labelling in the packages and identified quality control issues, including leaky cartridges. This led them to suggest that regulators remove e-cigarettes from the market.

Some people believe that e-cigarettes are a safe substitute for conventional cigarettes, said study co-author Dr. Prue Talbot, director of UC Riverside s Stem Cell Center. However, there are virtually no scientific studies on e-cigarettes and their safety. Our study one of the first studies to evaluate e-cigarettes shows that this product has many flaws, which could cause serious public health problems in the future if the flaws go uncorrected.

The authors failure to mention anything about the use of e-cigarettes as a harm reduction method while discussing the device s public health impact frustrates ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. What s missing is whether e-cigararette vapors are safe or not. They only insist that we don t know and shouldn t take our chances. The message they send with such articles is: Keep on smoking.

ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross points out that the researchers objective was to investigate current manufacturing practices for the product, but that they failed to mention that e-cigarette manufacturing is in its infant stage of development. If this were about a plant that manufactured Lipitor or asthma inhalers, you d say How could they get away with that? But we re in the Wild Wild West of e-cigarette manufacturing with very little regulatory oversight as yet. Yes, we need to ensure that e-cigarette makers use good manufacturing practices. Yet, if given the choice, I d still rather smoke an e-cigarette manufactured now than a traditional cigarette produced under tightly regulated manufacturing practices.