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Terry Martin

FDA Cracking Down on E-Cigarette Imports

By March 14, 2009

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What is an Electronic Cigarette?

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, look like the real thing but have just one thing in common with cigarettes made from tobacco: nicotine. An electronic cigarette consists of a white cylindrical tube with a brown filter and a red, glowing tip. Instead of tobacco however, e-cigarettes are filled with liquid nicotine. When smokers draw on the business end of the tube, a battery heats the nicotine, which creates a water-based nicotine vapor that is inhaled into the lungs. The excess cigarette-like "smoke" vapor is then emitted from the end of the e-cigarette, completing the cigarette smoking illusion.

Touted as a Healthy Smoking Alternative

Manufacturers of electronic cigarettes say that the product is a healthy smoking alternative, and even an effective quit smoking aid.

A typical manufactured cigarette contains upwards of 4000 chemical compounds, many of which are poisonous and/or cause cancer. While nicotine is the addictive ingredient in cigarettes, it is the thousands of toxins contained in cigarette smoke that account for the majority of smoking-related diseases associated with tobacco use.

The jury is still out on all of the health hazards of nicotine, but we do know that nicotine is extremely poisonous. In fact, one drop of pure nicotine is enough to kill a person. Smokers receive much smaller doses than that in tobacco products, however. For instance, a standard cigarette contains approximately 10 milligrams of nicotine, but only one or two milligrams is inhaled directly by the smoker. It is unclear how much nicotine is inhaled through an electronic cigarette because this product is unregulated (and untested for the most part) as of now.

Electronic Cigarettes Under Scrutiny

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) looks at the electronic cigarette as an unapproved new drug due to the lack of scientific evidence of the safety and effectiveness of this smoking substitute. As such, the FDA has been detaining and blocking imports of electronic cigarettes since at least last summer, though they are not pulling e-cigarettes from U.S. store shelves presently.

In a statement issued in September of 2008, the World Health Organization warned consumers that there is no solid evidence to support contentions that electronic cigarettes are a safe smoking alternative -- or an effective way to help people quit smoking.

FDA Hazy on E-Cigarettes' Safety -- CNN.com

March 16, 2009 at 3:54 am
(1) James says:

A good and neutral summary of the electronic cigarette!

March 31, 2009 at 11:53 am
(2) lynnea says:

These have been used in Europe for years, aside from the fact that it would be nice if there were more standardization of the liquids, what the heck are they thinking?? Don’t they get the hypocrisy of allowing tobacco products (well known carcinogen carriers) to go on unabated aside from making it inconvenient to use. But they’re going to stop something that people have been using for years safely, without harm to others, and themselves? I have used these cigarettes. I like them better than smoking, get them at the lowest nic concentration before it’s zero, and will definitely go back to regular old cigarettes when these are pulled. Because frankly, patches, gum, inhalers, just don’t work. I smoke more from being bored than anything else. The other smoking substitutions give me nothing to do with my hands to satisfy the tactile experience. Our FDA is off their rockers. They put things through all the time with bad, very bad, side effects and now they’re taking a stand on something that could be better for us than the alternative? Because of, so far, imagined issues? Point me at who I need to kick in the shin.

March 31, 2009 at 10:48 pm
(3) Richard says:

Want to know why the FDA is concerned? Because it doesn’t have its regulatory claws into it yet. The govt isn’t gettings it’s $3.00 per pack in taxes. That’s why the product is so bad. I liked one comment stating the nicotine provided in the ecig might be addictive. Well hell, what do they think we have going on with real cigs? I still say it is a matter of an unregulated product and organizations that feel the need to stick their damn noses where they aren’t wanted. I mean, what would they rather have, people still smoking regular cigs with all the chemicals they constantly begrudge and warn about or something that is a replacement and can quite possibly help one to kick the smoking habit period?

April 2, 2009 at 11:01 pm
(4) Smoker in NY says:

I am an E-cigg user.. I quit smoking about 6 months ago and have been usng the E-cig after asking my doctor what he thought.. I got the OK from my dr to try this.. I have been very happy with the outcome, i dont smell, my wife who doesnt smoke loves that i am using it. I would recomend it to anyone that wants to quit smoking but enjoys the nicotine that goes along with it.

But if they ban them in the US, then i will just go back to cigs and give the big finger to the FDA!

FYI nicotine is a stimulant, like caffine…
Doesnt pose any known issues in small uses.. hell you can drink water till you drown, are the FDA going to ban that next?

April 3, 2009 at 9:12 am
(5) ecigarette says:

Why does everything need to be banned? Isn’t regulation and taxation enough?

April 30, 2009 at 6:38 pm
(6) bmk says:

I get it and I really hope they do some testing on these e-cigs because I’m pretty sure that they will turn out to be a wonderful alternative. I also think testing will reveal any blind spots we might not be aware of (such as dosage issues or other effects it may have). All in all, it pretty hard for them to be worst than smoking, but we still need to know that what we are selling doesn’t have some horrible unknown side effect. (for all we know the process of aerosolizing nicotine could change its structure or something? – unlikely but possible) I don’t think they will ban it unless they have evidence that it is harmful.

May 13, 2009 at 3:18 am
(7) rob says:

what dose the FDA care about weather something is safe or not
have you seen any drug adds on tv
it can give you cancer FDA approved
it can cause strokes FDA approved
it can make you kill your self FDA approved
it can kill you first time you tack it FDA approved
it competes with big phrma FDA banned
thats the real story here the FDA is a puppet of big phrma

May 24, 2009 at 12:52 am
(8) Marlin says:

This is not about health, it is about money.


Take a look at why these special interest groups are acting the way they are against e cigarettes.

June 20, 2009 at 10:02 pm
(9) Brammy says:

I wonder WHAT the FDA is thinking? There were nicotine inhalers ten years ago but they did not simulate the smoking experience as well as these ecigs seem to. As a matter of fact I quit for a year using nicotine inhalers and lost all the gunk from my lungs in the process. Gupta says that inhaled nicotine is new NOT true. Made by NicoDerm ten years ago but short stubby ugly things that no one would really want to be seen in public with.

I just ordered my first ecig for both my health and my family’s health because I can no longer find the old kind.

FDA why don’t you help keep me from getting lung or pancreatic cancer nad help keep my kid from breathing second-hand smoke if only from my clothing. GMAFB And PLEASE let not tie this up in the red tape that made the cost of the old nicotine inhalers so ungodly unaffordable!!!!!

July 1, 2009 at 9:23 pm
(10) James says:

Some e-cig suppliers may be making claims that are not proven, but this does not make it a bad or dangerous product. The companies making claims should get approval to do so.

If we take all the known carcinogens out of cigarettes (which is scientifically what happens with e-cigarettes), it should then be up to the user to decide if they prefer it or not. If they want to continue smoking tobacco, then that is their choice.

So now you ask “how do we know the electronic cigarette vapor doesn’t contain any known carcinogens?” Other than the antidotal story of my wife showing the list of ingredients to her doctor, there have been studies done: http://acceptablechoice.si/GeneralView.htm
There was also one from Health New Zealand: http://www.healthnz.co.nz/

There are currently tests underway of the e-cigarette in the US and they are expected to come out carcinogen free as well…but time will tell.

Either way, the basic ingredients in eliquid is Propylene Glycol (generally recognized as safe by the FDA and in toothpaste, pills, lotions, and as a food additive) OR Vegetalbe Glycerin (used as a liquid sweetner), water (H2O), nicotine (optional) and flavoring. The labs break down the flavoring further).

All this doesn’t mean it is safe to inhale propylene glycol or glycerin or even water vapor.

But compare it to what’s in the smoke of a burning tobacco cigarette and decide for yourself.

For updates on the topic visit:


July 3, 2009 at 6:40 pm
(11) Anon says:

They still sell these. Go to meijer and look next to the cigarette isle, right next to the TOP cigarette tubes.

July 23, 2009 at 4:59 am
(12) dino says:

I’m not for govt. regulation, but I use e-cigs and they are making a lot of people very rich. They are way overpriced, and the parts wear out fast so you have to keep buying and buying.

We can scream about the FDA all we want, but to buy a plastic tube and the extras will cost you around $100 with the flavored cartridges.

Maybe the FDA getting into this will not be as bad as we all are inclined to think it will.

July 28, 2009 at 8:12 pm
(13) Bobbie Evans says:

Because the FDA isn’t sure that ecigs are safe they want to ban them in favor of leaving real cigarettes on the market because the they already know they’ll kill us?

Vaping and loving it!
omfg it’s the future!

August 31, 2009 at 11:19 am
(14) stephanie says:

I’ve been off tobacco cigs for over 6 months! I can take a deep breath without my lungs hurting, have more energy and feel alot better, no more morning coughing! No ashtrays or stinky smoke around my house or car. Its wonderful. As for kids using them yeah right kids are gonna spend so much money to get one, I highly doubt it. Keep electronic cigs on the market just stick a warning label on them like everything else.

September 4, 2009 at 3:39 pm
(15) scottyj says:

what a joke $$$$ thats what it all comes down to and as far as paying $100 for a kit and so on look around the net you can get you own stuff to refill your carts. and atomizers 1 main component cost as low as $7 if you take 2 atomizers a month thats $14 and the juice at max for month is $50 at Max.$74 a month not bad considering that my marlbr*** cost round $6 a pack and i was 2-4 pack a day witch makes that out to 12-24$ a Day1 week of not smoking and i paid for me ecig habbit for 2 months or so lol
sorry big brother you arnt getting any more $ from me thats why fda is so upset

September 7, 2009 at 7:42 pm
(16) just da facts says:

Check this out, Google “phillip morris fda” you will learn that not only does phillip morris praise the ant smoking bill which the fda is using to attack electric cigarettes they CO AUTHERED IT!!! this is no joke. This knoledge allows you to very clearly see what is happening here. The fda is not here to help us be safe they are here to help us die at the hands of phillip morris the makers of Marlboro.

October 10, 2009 at 10:09 pm
(17) Rich says:

I dont understand why its even taking the FDA so long to figure out what is in these e-cigs. I love my e-cig but if i decided to spend a lot of money on trying to help me kick the habbit that could be even more dangerous than a regualar cig then i will be pissed but then again i hope the FDA doesnt spoof on their findings and say that it is harmful just to control people

October 28, 2009 at 1:55 pm
(18) Pat says:

I started on these a month ago. I’ve tried everything over the over 40 years I’ve smoked to no avail and was smoking a carton a week. These are a GODSEND! I’ve spent much less on these than cigarettes and have only smoked one pack a week since starting them. The “real” cigarettes are now less desirable to me every day and I doubt it’ll be long before that psychological temptation bothers me. For the FDA to worry about these is ludicrous! We already know cigarette smoking is harmful but the government simply taxes them enough to be happy there are people who smoke. These are simply awesome!

November 6, 2009 at 3:35 pm
(19) Dan says:

The more people the government kills off the less they have to take care of, the same reason for nonsense wars. control and power(money). they don’t care about your health, think about it would we smoke if it wasn’t available to us? hook line sinker.

December 8, 2009 at 9:32 am
(20) j-sin says:

personally i love the e-cigarette.. only bad thing about it is if you leave it at the bar or lose it your out a nice spot of cash.. but then again.. like losin a carton of cigarettes.. smokers usually have a stock of batteries or atomizers around anyway if youve been smokin one for awhile. so not a huge deal there.. its made me stop smoking regular cigarettes.. ive tried smoking them a few times since ive been with the e cig, and omg… first thought.. “ewww this is disgusting.. why did i ever smoke this??” made me get a headache and put that bad taste in my mouth again.. no matter what side effects they can eventually find with this thing, its never gonna be worse than a real cigarette for the simple fact of the carcinogens from burning something and inhaling it.. let alone the 30523520580 chemicals in cigarettes for whatever reason. people are addicted to smoking.. have been forever since the indians with their peace pipes.. nothings changing, just a bit healthier for our lungs.. only bad things i can see so far at all from the e cig.. (i look on both sides of the fence mind you) is the moister it can put in your lungs from the vapor, but our lungs are already moist, but may not be the safest in the cold weather.. expecially with menthol, mint, ect ect.. still.. better than dry, dirty dirty cigarette smog.. 2nd.. idk if its just me, but the feeling i get sometimes is like it weakens the enamel on my teeth.. no worse than the effects with regular cigarettes, adds tartar and plaque and nasty yellow color.. that part dosent happen with an e-cig. i feel much healthier and cleaner inside with this. not all congested and dry feeling inside. even if they use alogations like the ones mentioned above.. its in no way comparable to the damage caused by your every day tobacco cigarettes.. either way were still inhaling something that isnt oxygen into our lungs, and its our choice, at least we now have a safer, cleaner, cheaper, less polluting, odorless, smokeless, non fire hazard alternative.. pffft.. put fire safety chemicals in cigarettes??? lololol.. why… should just invest in one of these.. i dont see anyone burning their house down falling asleep with one of these in their mouth..

December 20, 2009 at 2:27 pm
(21) Tom says:

Health issues aside, the folks marketing these products are crooks. Want to get health advice and products from people who sell poisoned baby formula and are the largest producers of pirated cigarettes in the world?
We bought from OMB Smokefree at a state fair. Took the product back when we found that the website they gave us for refills was NONEXISTENT. They are scam artists operating out of a boiler room in Rhode Island. Probably related to crooks in Florida who are operating Smoking Everywhere, and are a step ahead of the FDA and prosecutors. They are engaged in identity theft and are stealing from their customer’s bank accounts and credit cards with phony charges. They have also been filmed selling their products to minor children at shopping mall kiosks.

January 13, 2010 at 1:58 pm
(22) ammar says:

I am 40 years old and I have been smoking for a little over 22 years. No more.
Here is my 2 cents on the subject.
The tobacco industry is the one trying to crack down on the Electronic cigarettes and not the FDA.

I speak from my own experience and would like to tell everyone, that I bought the electronic cigarette and for the last 4 weeks I have not smoked a single cigarette. Not one cigarette.

I have used patches in the past and failed three times to quit. Smokers are not only addicted to nicotine but they are also addicted to the smoke coming from the cigarette.

Electronic cigarette will one of the best thing to happen to humanity, I am thankful I invested the only $ 50 and now i make my own liquid to smoke; %100 natural and nicotine free. I just enjoy the smoke “vapor”.

February 15, 2010 at 7:16 pm
(23) BJ says:

There are hundreds and hundreds of reports now from ecig users who have stopped smoking cigarettes – many immediately. It’s amazing. Check out the big e-cigarette.com forum and the threads called “my story”.
I’m one of those. I had been smoking for over thirty years, heavily, and like so many had tried everything to quit – patches, gum, therapy, chantix … no go. Waking every morning with coughing and wheezing and the whole miserable business. Non-smokers and people who quit easily don’t get this, but those of us who have struggled miserably for years sure do.

I was skeptical when I first heard of these little things, but researched enough to locate a very good model and vendor (some out there are really not much good – check out vapor4life, and no, I’m not connected with them in any way except as a very happy customer) and ordered a kit.
It’s the most amazing thing in the world (and again, this is very very much not not just me). I find the process of using them very easy and the taste and feel pleasant, and after the first few *minutes* I simply didn’t want a cigarette. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop but… three weeks later it’s the same. It’s just incredible.
I love these and also find them much less frantically addicting than cigarettes. I save tons of money, I feel wonderful, the coughing and wheezing are gone, energy is up, the whole deal.
And I’m inhaling water vapor, PG (and honestly, just really do your homework on that – you may as well be freaked out by the warnings on aspirin), and of course vaporized nicotine. People are very confused about nicotine. It’s neither a carcinogen nor a mutagen; tobacco *smoke* is, and the stuff they add to it is also.
I wasn’t terrified by the patch, no one screams about the patch, or the gum, come ON, and inhaling nicotine vapor (there’s no smoke, it’s vapor) w/o tar, CO, and the thousands of toxic chemicals they add to cigarette tobacco is most certainly a welcome alternative. And no, it doesn’t stink – it has no fragrance at all. The exhaled vapor dissipates almost immediately – there’s nothing floating around.
The misinformation circulating out there is absurd and very sad. So is the corrupt campaign to have these banned.
It’s got nothing to do with FDA concerns about health, and everything to do with cigarette taxes, from which they profit, pharma profits on their useless (7% success rate) replacement products, and of course the tobacco industry.

It sounds hyperbolic but yeah, I think it’s not extreme to call these a gift to humanity.
So of course they’ll try to cash in, and if they can’t, they’ll try to eliminate such a formidable competitor. It would be a damned shame.

February 18, 2010 at 2:08 pm
(24) chuck says:

the e cig has stopped the use of regular cigs for my wife and i and now e can breathe better because we dont have the tar or all of the other chemicals going into our lungs and we are going to quit the e cig soon and we feel it will make it easy to quit we thjnk the goverment is angry because they cant make any money off of them

August 3, 2010 at 1:08 am
(25) Chris says:

I don’t think it’s ppl’s health that they are concern. It’s that tax $$$ they really care about, otherwise they should do the same to the real cigs that’s selling for $8 a pack on the market right now.

November 25, 2010 at 3:21 pm
(26) vew459 says:

I have been using the e-cig for 6 wks now and have quit smoking tobacco cigs, which now to me smell and taste disgusting. I think it is revolutionary! I attended a call it quits program here in my city through the health department sponsoed by the hospitol to get people to quit smoking.I tried the free products they promote, the patch(allergic~rash) gum & lozengers gave me the worse heartburn and did not stisfy my cravings, The only thing left was chantix which I refuse to take being that there are so many law suits against the product. The instructer told the whole class that the e-cigs are not fda approved and are bad for you because they contain anti-freeze. I was told i would have to do it cold turkey which I can’t do it, just the thought makes me smoke more. I smoked lights for 14 yrs, about a pack every other day. I researched the e-cig and a friend of mine whom had been using it for a year convinced me to give it a try. I am so glad I did. I am going to step down from high to medium next month than to low and than 0 and than quit all together. Good luck to anybody trying to get healthier and this is a good alternative vs real cigs!

November 26, 2010 at 7:47 am
(27) quitsmoking says:

It is important to note that as a quit aid, electronic cigarettes fall short on a number of important levels:

  • E-cigs contain TSNAs – some of the most potent carcinogens found in tobacco smoke
  • The lack of regulation of this product means that cartridges may or may not contain the amount of nicotine advertised. In samples tested, all but one of the non-nicotine cartridges did have nicotine in them. For a person trying to end nicotine addiction, this is an obvious disadvantage.
  • E-cigarettes reinforce smoking behavior. It is counter-productive to substitute a nicotine delivery device that looks, for all intents and purposes, just like the cigarettes we are working so hard to break free of.
  • Recovery from nicotine addiction involves two things:

  • Healing from the physical addiction to nicotine.
  • Reprogramming old associations that involve smoking with new associations that do not.
  • Choosing a cigarette-like nicotine product to help us heal those associations is risky and puts unnecessary stress on an already challenging task. If you wish to use a nicotine-based quit aid to help you quit smoking, it’s better to use one that is carefully regulated and approved by the medical community.
  • January 4, 2011 at 1:48 pm
    (28) LD says:

    It’s all about money and control. If the Fed finds something wrong or “unsafe” with something (even if there’s nothing truly wrong or “unsafe”), they get to regulate and tax it on the companies’ side and then tax it on the consumer side, too. Cha-ching. On the other side, if they can somehow call it a “medical device”, they get to also cash in. It’s a win/win for them either way.

    January 25, 2011 at 5:48 pm
    (29) Meesa says:

    I believe it may be a good thing to regulate them. Only because sometimes the sellers dont know what they are talking about.
    I purchased an e-cigg and a bottle of the flavored oil and was shown how to use it. As it turns out, the oil was made by the seller, (adding the flavor, nicotine and VG) and I ended up in the hospital with nicotine poisoning after 3 days of use.
    I was told from the seller that he would dilute the oil to cut it in half and that should be better. I was stupid and tried it and by the morning of the second day, all my symptoms were coming back.
    I believe the e-cigg can be great and while on it I didnt smoke at all, but I think that it should be regulated to avoid nicotine overdosing, which can kill you. I hope they do it because I would really like to try them again, once I am sure they are safe.

    April 8, 2011 at 12:12 am
    (30) Todd says:

    Just had a heart attack on Sunday @ 48 yrs old. Been smoking for 34 years. I am done with ANY nicotine product. I almost died!

    October 12, 2012 at 10:51 pm
    (31) Quinn S. says:

    I’ve been vaping since March, 2012 and since the first day, have not touched a Cig. I use to smoke a pack and a half a day. Since starting the vapes, I have stopped weezing at night, caughing all the time, smelling like hell and I just feel better. Also, I have reduced from the strongest to nearly the weakest vape liquid they have. I also smoke less and less all the time, so hopefully I can give it up all together soon. The FDA will always be involved, same as every other new thing because they need a way to continuously justify why they are still paid. I for one will stock up on liquid smokes if they decide to pull them for a while. I don’t ever want to go back to the old fationed cigs. One more thing, Stephen Dorff is now promoting one. So maybe they will stick around for a while.

    December 20, 2012 at 7:30 am
    (32) Lester says:

    smoking e cigar is not safe but it is way safer than smoking a conventional cigarette,

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