Are Flavored E-Cigs and E-Liquids Safe to Use?

It may surprise you that electronic cigarettes come in a variety of colors and flavors. It may further surprise you that these devices, touted by manufacturers to be a smoking cessation tool and a healthier alternative to smoking tobacco, come in flavors such as bubble-gum, fruits and mints. According to the anti e-cig groups, the availability of these flavors in particular poses serious questions about the intent of e-cigarette companies such as V2 Cigs, Blu Cigs, and other e-liquid companies who, exactly, they are aiming their product at.

In addition, with the safety of e-cigarettes still in question, is it a good idea to make this product attractive to children?

Yummy Bubble-Gum Electronic Cigarettes – Are They Safe?

Tobacco cigarettes are already considered by many children to be ‘cool’. Smoking seems to make them feel like they are ‘grown up’ or that they look ‘grown up’. The demise of the widespread presence of candy cigarettes in the US came about not because they were unsafe, but because they glorified a deadly activity. E-cigarettes are no different in this aspect. With a great variety of flavors available for those who use these devices, e-cigarettes become a curiosity and a desire for kids who watch their parents use them. With flavors such as waffle, Dr. Pepper, bubblegum, butterscotch, ice cream, cotton candy and caramel, what child would not want to try such a treat? But, unbeknownst to them, these e-cigarettes have toxins and carcinogens in addition to nicotine.

According to the anti e-cig organizations, if children use these devices, they are inhaling unknown quantities of these substances and receiving some sort of dose of nicotine, creating another addicted generation. Furthermore, flavored cigarettes were banned by the FDA in September 2009. They stated that teenagers prefer flavored cigarettes three times more than people 25 years of age or older. The FDA recognizes that flavoring a product such as tobacco is a potential slippery slope for kids who are tempted to start smoking. If flavored cigarettes are banned, why should it be OK and safe for electronic cigarettes (that also contain large quantities of nicotine) to offer flavors other than menthol? Why wouldn’t flavored e-cigarettes be just as, if not more, tempting than flavored cigarettes? After all, the industry touts e-cigarettes as much healthier than tobacco cigarettes!

If we consider those who are legally allowed to use e-cigarettes, these devices can still be physically dangerous. Let’s put aside for a moment the fact that none of these devices have undergone rigorous testing by the FDA. The flavorings that are used for the cartridges are made, largely, of artificial flavorings. Artificial flavorings are, by their very nature, chemicals synthesized in the lab, deemed to ‘taste’ like a particular substance by a number of taste testers. While most artificial flavors seem to be safe for general consumption, there are two facts that stand out: 1.) Artificial flavors are not regulated by the FDA. Companies are not required to divulge the entire chemical mixture that goes into creating a flavor; and 2.) Artificial flavors may be safe when ingested by mouth. But there is absolutely no study that has looked at what happens when artificial flavors are consistently and constantly inhaled into the lungs.

While we understand that e-cigarettes are likely much safer than tobacco cigarettes, caution must be exercised if one is to guard one’s health in an intelligent manner.