The verdict on whether electronic cigarettes are safer than traditional cigarettes is still very much out. However, a recent study found e-cigarette emissions contain a variety of concerning chemicals, including some considered to be probable carcinogens.
In a recent study, Harvard public health researchers decided to test a few dozen types of electronic cigarettes for diacetyl, a flavoring chemical associated with a severe respiratory disease known as “popcorn lung.” The researchers found diacetyl in a majority of the e-cigarettes they tested. News outlets jumped on the findings, with some announcing that e-cigarettes could cause the often-debilitating respiratory disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released the first nationally representative estimates of electronic cigarette use among U.S. adults, finding that more than 12 percent had ever tried the aerosol nicotine products in 2014. So, as is the unfortunate case with many emerging and potential public health threats, it seems like e-cigarette use is outpacing the ability of regulatory bodies to protect the public’s health and educate consumers about possible risks.
In just a year, electronic cigarette use has tripled among American teens. And considering that no one really knows what the related health impacts are and any regulatory framework is lagging far behind the growing popularity of e-cigarettes, public health advocates say it’s time for action.