Health officials in the United States are taking a closer look at the safety of electronic cigarette products, battery-powered gadgets with cartridges containing a solution that emits a vapor when heated. Tobacco companies and marketers have allegedly touted them as a healthier alternative to regular cigarettes and even as a transitional product to those who want to quit the habit.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned five e-cigarette companies back in September that they are breaking the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act by promoting claims with not enough scientific basis as well as unsafe manufacturing practices. The agency said that the electronic cigarettes they tested had carcinogenic substances. The FDA wants to regulate the sale of these popular products which they see as a public health threat. Electronic cigarettes are currently readily available in stores without restrictions like minimum age for buyers. Anti-smoking advocates say that the companies entice teenagers by selling e-cigarettes in various flavors such as chocolate or strawberry. The sellers counter that they only target adult consumers and do not promote electronic cigarettes as a healthier substitute to smoking.