Urge FDA to Emphasize Unknown Safety of E-Cigarettes


Target: Margaret Hamburg, United States Food and Drug Administration Commissioner

Goal: Inform public of unknown safety of e-cigarettes

A recent study conducted by the University of Hawaii’s Cancer Center found that many young people who want to stop smoking cigarettes turn to electronic cigarettes, “e-cigarettes,” as a solution. E-cigarettes are battery-operated, and are often viewed as harmless because the smoker exhales vapor as opposed to smoke.

The study surveyed over 1,500 smokers from various ethnic backgrounds, and found that thirteen percent of them would choose the e-cigarette to help them quit smoking. The study also showed that “…people who had used other nicotine replacement therapy that had been approved by the FDA…were two to four times more likely to have tried electronic cigarettes to quit smoking,” as reported by Dr. Pallav Pokhiel. Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate e-cigarettes. These devices are new to the market, first appearing in 2006, and, unfortunately, are still undergoing FDA testing to prove whether or not they are “…even safe to be used,” according to Lila Johnson, staff member of the Department of Health’s Tobacco Prevention and Education Program. This means that the idea that e-cigarettes are safer and are harmless to the smoker is misguided.

Even though the FDA prohibits e-cigarette companies from promoting their products as a way to stop smoking, many users still believe that the devices are safer and are effective in helping smokers quit. Even worse, many smokers believe that since they exhale vapor rather than smoke, there is no harm done to those who breathe in what they have just exhaled. As reported by the Washington Post, a recent German study found that e-cigarette vapor contains nicotine and propylene glycol, substances that can potentially harm others.

The FDA must better publicize the unknown safety and effects of e-cigarettes. Users should not be fooled into thinking they are safer than regular cigarettes. The FDA is taking action in conducting studies and prohibiting companies from promoting their products as being safe, but confusion among consumers still remains. In order to inform consumers of the truth, the FDA must be more vocal in ways that will directly reach them, such as through media sources and press releases.

By signing the petition below, you will urge the FDA to better inform consumers of the questionable safety of e-cigarettes.


Dear Margaret Hamburg,

Many people believe e-cigarettes are safer than regular cigarettes and can even help smokers quit despite the FDA prohibiting companies from advertising as such. This shows that, even though companies may not intentionally mislead them, consumers are still confused as to the safety, or lack of safety, of e-cigarettes. This puts consumers in a dangerous situation, and it is up to the FDA to inform them of the lack of information about e-cigarettes.

The FDA has taken action by conducting studies on these devices. However, until these studies are complete, the FDA needs to better publicize the unknown safety of e-cigarettes and the potential harm they can cause. We urge the FDA to be more vocal about the questionable consequences of using e-cigarettes.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Flickr upload bot via Wikimedia Commons

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57 Signatures

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