Electronic cigarettes are becoming big business. Users say the devices have helped them stop smoking traditional cigarettes and that “vaping” is safer than smoking tobacco.

But, the tiny devices haven’t been on the market long enough to have any long term health studies conducted on the very vapor they send straight into the lungs of its users.

So, the ABC15 Investigators wanted to take a closer look at the contents of this vapor. We enlisted the help of a lab to test the vapor you’re breathing in each time you use an e cigarette.


Travis Saul started using electronic cigarettes a year ago. Now, he says, “Vaping is a way of life.”

He said he turned to e cigarettes so he could quit smoking traditional ones. “If you want to quick smoking, vaping will work,” he said.

The father of two wanted to kick his 18 year old habit for his family. “I’d have to go outside to smoke,” he said.

He didn’t want his kids to be around him while he was smoking.

” is just as bad as the smoking,” he said.

Now, Saul owns his own company selling electronic cigarettes in stores and online. He says they are completely safe.


Dr. Stanton Glantz is a professor at the University of California at San Francisco and one of the leading researchers on e cigarettes.

He believes calling vaping’ safe is a lot of smoke and mirrors.

“If you are around somebody who is using e cigarettes, you are breathing in ultra fine particles and you are breathing in nicotine,” he said.

You can buy e cigarettes without nicotine in them, but most of them contain the addictive chemical.

“It heats up a mixture of nicotine, proplynegycal and other chemicals, and that heated mixture becomes an aerosol, which is inhaled deeply into your lungs to deliver the addictive drug nicotine,” Glantz said.

Current research shows there is detectable levels of nicotine in non smokers who hang around people using e cigarettes.


“I would say e cigarettes are the cigarettes of the 21 st century,” according to scientist Dr. Prue Talbot. She and her team at the University of California Riverside are among the first in the country to analyze the vapor in e cigarettes.

The ABC15 Investigators had her team test two brands of e cigarettes using a smoking machine and a specialized microscope.

The first test was for Smoking Everywhere Platinum. It showed metals.

“There is quite a bit of tin. Most of this material is composed of tin,” said Dr. Talbot. “There is also some oxygen, some copper and some nickel.”

Smoking Everywhere Platinum had so much metal in the vapor that it created pellets.

“I think the fact there is significant amount of tin in these pellets is important. This means the people using this product are going to be inhaling the tin,” said Dr. Talbot.

The doctor continue to say that inhaling tin directly or even second hand can be dangerous.

“Nanoparticles in general can be toxic,” she said. “In the case of e cigarettes, the nanoparticles would tend to go deeper into the respiratory system.”

“These particles are so very small they go from your lungs straight into your blood stream, and carry the toxic chemicals into your blood, and then appear in various organs,” said Dr. Glantz.

The research team has tested many brands of e cigarettes, and each one had a different result. But, keep in mind, each brand is manufactured differently.

For example, the second brand we had the lab test, Mistic, had no tin in the vapor. But, the lab found concentrations of copper.

Supporters say e cigarettes are only 10 to 20 percent as polluting as tobacco cigarettes. But Dr. Glantz said that’s still not good. “On an absolute whole, it’s still a bad thing,” she said.

Both Smoking Everywhere and Mistic are made in China. We contacted both companies, but we have not received a response.


There is currently no federal regulation of the products even though they use nicotine. However, Arizona has made it illegal to sell them to minors.

We asked the Food and Drug Administration about any future plans for possible regulation.

“Electronic cigarettes are battery operated products that turn nicotine, which is highly addictive, and/or other chemicals into a vapor that is inhaled by the user. The FDA regulates electronic cigarettes that are marketed for therapeutic purposes as drugs or devices. The FDA intends to propose a regulation that would extend the agency’s ‘tobacco product’ authorities which currently only apply to cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll your own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco to other categories of tobacco products that meet the statutory definition of ‘tobacco product.’ Further research is needed to assess the potential public health benefits and risks of electronic cigarettes and other novel tobacco products,” the agency said in a statement.

Even though FDA only currently regulates electronic cigarettes if they make a therapeutic claim, consumers may submit

Ban on nicotine-loaded e-cigarettes aggressively enforced while some anti-smoking advocates call for legalization

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Even as some public health advocates call for legalization, Health Canada has been vigorously applying its controversial ban on nicotine loaded e cigarettes, ordering scores of businesses to stop selling the devices and telling Internet providers and credit card companies to cut off the companies.

The regulator has investigated 250 complaints about sales of electronic cigarettes in the past four years and issued cease and desist letters to most of the businesses involved, said Leslie Meerburg, a spokeswoman.

The enforcement attempts come amid a spirited debate among public health experts about whether e cigarettes risk encouraging real smoking or represent an effective stand in for tobacco, minus the life threatening side effects.

E cigarette businesses and some anti smoking advocates argue the government should be moving toward legalizing and regulating the devices, rather than bullying the retailers.


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We have never seen any product, nicotine replacement therapy product, that has generated so much interest on behalf of the smokers. This is so amazing, said Fran ois Damphousse, a researcher with the Non smokers Rights Association, one of Canada s most influential tobacco control organizations.

What you should do is permit it on the market and inform the public If you have to make a choice because you re addicted, go for the safer product.

The battery powered devices heat up a liquid that contains nicotine and flavouring, turning it into vapour and creating an experience akin to smoking, while providing a hit of the addictive drug. Missing are the thousands of chemicals, many of them carcinogenic, churned out by burning tobacco.

Citing the potential for nicotine poisoning and addiction, and potential irritation from the propylene glycol liquid, Health Canada issued a notice in 2009 that barred sales of the devices if they contain nicotine.

Health Canada is sometimes criticized for a less than aggressive approach to enforcing its rules. The regulator has gone after e cigarette sellers, however, with relative gusto, seizing or turning back product being imported into Canada, as well as demanding a sales halt in most of the 250 complaints it has investigated, said Ms. Meerburg.

No charges have been laid.

If you have to make a choice because you re addicted, go for the safer product

The department has also asked that Internet service providers cease hosting websites selling e cigarettes, and told credit card companies, or third parties like PayPal, not to handle the retailers transactions, said Daniel David, head of the Electronic Cigarette Trade Association.

It does slow down this industry, certainly, said Mr. David. A lot of times it s a scare tactic. If you re a new company and Health Canada sends you a cease and desist letter, it can be pretty stressful.

The Northern Vapers store in Saanich, B.C., is one of those to receive a stop sale letter. They re just trying to intimidate people, charged owner John Overall.

Mr. David is convinced the devices work like no other smoking cessation tool, rapidly weaning him off tobacco, and doing the same for 70 80% of customers at his Evape stores.

However, many public health experts are disturbed by the growing interest in vaping.

The Canadian Cancer Society has warned the trend threatens to hook youth on nicotine and re normalize smoking. New Brunswick s deputy chief medical officer of health has called for a crackdown, and Nova Scotia has already said it will include e cigarettes in laws banning indoor smoking and sales to minors.

Dr. Robert Strang, that province s chief medical officer of health, said he is not just worried about the devices leading young people to tobacco. Anecdotal evidence suggests existing smokers are using them to continue their habit indoors, negating the deterrent impact of smoking bans, he said.

In the last decade, we ve made significant gains, especially in youth smoking. We have a generation of young people growing up in an environment where non smoking is much more the norm, said Dr. Strang. We run a real risk of rolling that back.

There are signs, however, of a shift in opinion. The Canadian Lung Association said this week it is reassessing the strong stance against e cigarettes it voiced just last year.

Mr. Damphousse , whose organization convinced the government to introduce graphic health warnings on cigarette packages, argued that any smoker who uses e cigarettes is either consuming less tobacco or none at all, reducing his or her health risks either way.

In the U.S., regular tobacco sales continue dropping while those of e cigarettes soar, suggesting consumption of the electronic devices could surpass traditional cigs within the next decade, wrote analyst Bonnie Herzog of Wells Fargo Securities in a recent report.

Scientific research on their benefits and risks is accumulating, but is still limited. A recently published New Zealand trial of 657 smokers concluded that a modest 7.3% of nicotine e cigarette users had quit tobacco after six months, compared with 5.8% using a nicotine patch and 4.1% employing an e cigarette with no nicotine.

A U.S. government study published last September, meanwhile, found that the portion of Grade 6 12 students who had tried an e cigarette doubled to about 6.8% from 2011 to 2012, although just over 90% had also smoked tobacco products.

National Post