How unsafe are e-cigarettes?

By on September 11, 2013

The number of smokers in Japan has significantly declined over the years but Japan Tobacco, in its latest annual survey,  claims there are as much as 30 million people who still smoke.

The 2010 tax increase on cigarettes in Japan caused smokers either to kick the habit or look for alternatives.  With consumption tax scheduled to rise further,  many smokers are looking to electronic cigarettes to tone down  their nicotine craving.   Researchers estimate the sale of e-cigarettes in Japan to reach billion dollars in the near future.

An e-cigarette is advertised as an alternative to conventional tobacco products. It is a battery-powered device that provides inhaled doses of nicotine by delivering a vaporized propylene glycol/nicotine mixture.  Experts are currently evaluating if it includes harmful volatile components.

With so many electronic cigarette brands sold at kiosks and on the internet today, the competition remains tough.  Some marketers use misleading slogans like “zero nicotine”, “completely safe”, etc.   The question is how true are these claims?

“60 million de consommateurs”, a respected French consumer magazine released the results of its study made on a dozen of reusable and disposable e-cigarette models.  According to the magazine, “electronic cigarettes emit potentially cancer-causing carcinogenic compounds.  They are far from the harmless gadgets they’re claimed to be.”

“This is not a reason to ban them.  This is a reason to better control them,”, wrote Thomas Laurenceau, the editor of National Consumer Institute (INC) magazine.


The French study claims that some e-cigarette products were found to lack safety caps on some refills and release a high dose of formaldehyde which can be toxic to children if ingested.

About Veronique Labat