NEW YORK (MainStreet) Remember the "organic" movement? Society may have just turned on a dime once again. We seem to be heading in the opposite direction, with a new fervor for synthetic products. Consider the portable party combination of electronic cigarettes and powered alcohol.
E-cig sales topped $1.5 billion in 2013, with use essentially doubling each year since their introduction in 2006, according to Fitch, the ratings service. The popularity of the mock cigarettes is so significant that the FDA has stepped in to regulate the product.
That may be a good idea, because other than liquid nicotine, not too many people really know what's inside these things. While manufacturers are not required to disclose the ingredients in e-cigarette liquid, nor the substances present in the vapor inhaled and exhaled by the user, research has shown at least 10 chemicals have been found in e-cig vapor that are on the California Prop 65 list of carcinogens and reproductive toxins.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported a dramatic increase in e-cigarette-related calls to poison centers. In February alone, more than half (51.1%) of the calls involved young children under the age of five. The FDA has proposed a federal minimum age limit of 18 to purchase such vapor products.
"This report raises another red flag about e-cigarettes the liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes can be hazardous," said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. "Use of these products is skyrocketing and these poisonings will continue. E-cigarette liquids as currently sold are a threat to small children because they are not required to be childproof, and they come in candy and fruit flavors that are appealing to children."
The FDA proposes the regulation of E-cigarette ingredients, but not the flavorings. The agency is still studying the long-term effects on individual health and further regulation will likely be recommended as new information is gathered. Meanwhile, there is little doubt that the price of the product will rise: state and federal taxing authorities are rushing to the revenue trough to gain their share of the liquid assets.