Study reveals a need to evaluate and regulate 'electronic cigarettes'

February 10, 2010 by Sathya Achia Abraham

(PhysOrg.com) -- Electronic cigarettes should be evaluated, regulated, labeled and packaged in a manner consistent with cartridge content and product effect - even if that effect is a total failure to deliver nicotine as demonstrated in a study supported by the National Cancer Institute and led by a Virginia Commonwealth University researcher.

The research was published in the Online First issue of the journal Tobacco Control. The article will appear in the February print issue of the journal.

Electronic cigarettes consist of a battery, heater and cartridge containing a solution of nicotine, propylene glycol and other chemicals and have been marketed to deliver nicotine without tobacco toxicants. Despite no published data concerning safety or efficacy, these products are sold in shopping malls and online. Further, "electronic cigarettes" currently are unregulated in the U.S., unlike other products intended to deliver nicotine to such as lozenges, gum and patches.

"Consumers have a right to expect that products marketed to deliver a drug will work safely and as promised. Our findings demonstrate that the 'electronic cigarettes' that we tested do not deliver the drug they are supposed to deliver. It's not just that they delivered less nicotine than a cigarette. Rather, they delivered no measurable nicotine at all. In terms of nicotine delivery, these products were as effective as puffing from an unlit cigarette," said principal investigator Thomas Eissenberg, Ph.D., professor in the VCU Department of Psychology.

According to Eissenberg, these findings are important because they demonstrate why regulation of these products is essential for protecting the welfare and rights of consumers. With regulation, consumers can expect that these and similar products will be evaluated objectively and then labeled and packaged in a manner that is consistent with the drug they contain and the effects they produce, he said.

"Regulation can protect consumers from unsafe and ineffective products, but these products have somehow avoided regulation thus far. Our results suggest that consumers interested in safe and effective nicotine delivery need to be very wary of unregulated "electronic cigarettes," said Eissenberg.

In Eissenberg's study, 16 participants engaged in four different sessions - each separated by 48 hours - which included smoking their preferred brand of cigarettes, puffing an unlit cigarette, or using one of two different brands of "electronic cigarettes" loaded with "high" strength, which is 16 mg, nicotine cartridges. Eissenberg and his team measured the level of nicotine in the participants' blood and also their and craving for a cigarette/nicotine.

They observed that when participants used the two brands of "electronic cigarettes," there was no significant increase in nicotine levels or heart rate, and little reduction in craving. However, when participants smoked their own brand of , substantial and significant increases in plasma and heart rate, and decreases in craving were observed.

Eissenberg, who is director of the VCU Clinical Behavioral Pharmacology Laboratory and a researcher with the VCU Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies, has completed a series of studies demonstrating how clinical laboratory methods can be used to evaluate the toxicant exposure and other effects of novel products for tobacco users.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Sunrise and sunset guide daily activities of city-dwellers

November 21, 2017
Despite artificial lightning and social conventions, the dynamics of daylight still influence the daily activities of people living in modern, urban environments, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

Older men need more protein to maintain muscles

November 21, 2017
The amount of protein recommended by international guidelines is not sufficient to maintain muscle size and strength in older men, according to a new study.

Exercising and eating well are greater contributors to health than standing at work

November 21, 2017
By now you've probably heard the edict from the health community: Sitting is the new smoking. Perhaps you've converted to a standing desk, or maybe you have a reminder on your phone to get up once an hour and walk around ...

Changes in young people's sexual practices over the last 20 years revealed

November 20, 2017
Published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, the study describes changes in young people's sexual practices using nationally-representative data from the National Surveys of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal), the ...

Motorcycle crashes cause five times as many deaths as car accidents, six times the health costs

November 20, 2017
Motorcycle accidents are costly in terms of lives and health care costs. Compared with car accidents, motorcycle accidents cause 3 times the injuries, 6 times the medical costs and 5 times the deaths, found new research in ...

Dog ownership linked to lower mortality

November 17, 2017
A team of Swedish scientists have used national registries of more than 3.4 million Swedes aged 40 to 80 to study the association between dog ownership and cardiovascular health. Their study shows that dog owners had a lower ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ForFreeMinds
not rated yet Feb 11, 2010
It's unfortunate the authors emphasize regulation and political interference in the marketplace, rather than just reporting the efficacy of nicotine delivery of the various products. How much better it would have been if they actually listed the products and what they really delivered. That alone would have the intended effect of helping assure that purchasers know what they are getting, and would put those companies not delivering what they promised, out of business. Perhaps, like many researchers, they are tailoring their research towards the ends of the people granting the money for it.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.