Although we have all been taught that smoking cigarettes is harmful to our health, more than 40 million Americans are smokers. Cigarettes can damage every single organ in your body and according to the Center for Disease Control, smoking-related illnesses are responsible for one out of every five deaths in the United States.
In recent years the number of cigarette smokers has decreased, but that is due in-part to the rise of electronic cigarettes (“e-cigarettes”).
Although e-cigarettes are tobacco-free, they do contain liquid nicotine. A battery-powered coil mechanism inside the barrel of an e-cigarette heats up the liquid nicotine which becomes vapor and the vapor is inhaled. Some e-cigarettes are disposable, but others have a refillable chamber. The e-cigarette refill fluid is dangerous whether it is ingested or absorbed through the skin. Liquid nicotine can be lethal. Less than one tablespoon of the liquid contained in many e-cigarettes is enough to kill an adult. According to the CDC, poison center calls related to e-cigarettes jumped from 0.3 percent in September 2010, to 41.7 percent in February 2014.
E-cigarettes were first sold in the United States in 2007, but the majority of them are made in China. The e-cigarette market has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry, one with no oversight or accountability. E-cigarettes aren’t regulated by the FDA yet, so there is no quality control. The FDA said that it plans to regulate e-cigarettes but at this point e-cigarette manufacturers aren’t even required to disclose what ingredients are in their products. Contrary to common claims that e-cigarettes emit a harmless water vapor, cancer causing particles are in the vapor. Some samples tested by the FDA contained at least 10 cancer-causing agents and toxic substances, including formaldehyde. Studies also found ultra-fine particles, which constrict arteries, at levels higher than those in ordinary cigarettes. This means that second-hand exposure could be harmful and even toxic.
The FDA plans to require that manufacturers place health warning stickers on their products, disclose the ingredients, stop marketing to minors and ban manufacturers from making health-related claims without the scientific studies to back up those claims. While there is still a lot to learn about e-cigarettes one thing is certain, nicotine is addictive and the younger people start smoking, the harder it is to quit. Without FDA regulations in place, e-cigarette companies have been free to sell their products to minors.
In September 2013, the CDC reported that e-cigarette use had doubled in young people from 2011-2012. The CDC reported that 10% of high school students and 2.7% of middle school students had used e-cigarettes.
E-cigarette company executives have testified in Congress that they are not marketing their products to minors. Lawmakers balked at those claims noting that the e-cigarette companies, many of which are owned in-part by Big Tobacco, use cartoons in their ads and have flavors such as Jolly Rancher, cotton candy, and Koo-Aid varieties.
Like many other states, Louisiana has banned the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.
If you or a loved one has been injured by an e-cigarette, learn about your legal rights from an experienced attorney by filling out our free, no obligation case review form.