Views & Reviews Personal View

Electronic cigarettes: miracle or menace?

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c311 (Published 20 January 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c311
  1. Andreas D Flouris, senior researcher,
  2. Dimitris N Oikonomou, researcher
  1. 1FAME Laboratory, Institute of Human Performance and Rehabilitation, Centre for Research and Technology—Thessaly, Volos, Greece
  1. Correspondence to: AD Flouris aflouris{at}cereteth.gr

    At a time when the number of smokers worldwide is at its highest, and antismoking policies are proliferating,1 the sector for alternative smoking products is in a froth of excitement about the potential to increase its market share and revenues. One of the most recent products in the market is the electronic cigarette (e-cigarette), which is intended, whether overtly stated or implied, to reduce concentrations of toxic compounds in mainstream and sidestream smoke and to help smokers give up. They are battery powered devices that simulate tobacco cigarettes by vaporising nicotine and other chemicals into an inhalable vapour. The scarce data available so far indicate that sales of e-cigarettes are rising,2 yet recently the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expressed serious concerns about their safety.3

    To date, animal and human studies on the health effects of actively or passively smoking e-cigarettes are lacking, although three toxicological analyses have been released evaluating various brands of e-cigarettes for their nicotine content and other impurities. The three reports are from the FDA,3 …

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