Reports of e-cigarette injury jump amid rising popularity, u.s. data show

WASHINGTON (Reuters) Complaints of injury linked to e cigarettes, from burns and nicotine toxicity to respiratory and cardiovascular problems, have jumped over the past year as the devices become more popular, the most recent U.S. data show.

Between March 2013 and March 2014, more than 50 complaints about e cigarettes were filed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to data obtained through a public records request. That is on par with the combined number reported over the previous five years.

The health problems were not necessarily caused by e cigarettes. And it is not clear that the rate of adverse events has increased. In 2011, about 21 percent of adult smokers had used e cigarettes, according to federal data, more than double the rate in 2010.

Still, David Ashley, director of the office of science at the FDA’s tobacco division, said the uptick is significant, especially in light of a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing an increase in the number of e cigarette related calls to poison control centers.

«Both together does suggest there are more instances going on,» he said.

The FDA is poised to regulate e cigarettes and other «vaping» devices for the first time, potentially reshaping an industry that generates roughly $2 billion a year in the United States. Some industry analysts see e vapor consumption outpacing that of traditional cigarettes, now an $85 billion industry, within a decade.

E cigarettes are battery powered cartridges filled with a nicotine liquid that, when heated, creates an inhalable mist. Little is known about the long term health effects of the products, which were developed in China and moved into the U.S. market in 2007.

«Some evidence suggests that e cigarette use may facilitate smoking cessation, but definitive data are lacking,» Dr. Priscilla Callahan Lyon of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products wrote in a recent medical journal article.

Contradictory findings from preliminary studies have become ammunition in the lobbying campaign around the devices, which allow users to inhale nicotine without the damaging tar produced by conventional cigarettes.

Public health officials have said the devices may encourage

nonsmokers, particularly young people, to try conventional cigarettes. E cigarette advocates have argued that they provide a safer alternative for smokers.

The FDA has sponsored research to try to answer safety questions, and it is examining its database of adverse events for any trends that might raise concerns.


The complaints from the public filed with the FDA cited trouble breathing, headache, cough, dizziness, sore throat, nose bleeds, chest pain or other cardiovascular problems, and allergic reactions such as itchiness and swelling of the lips.

One person told the FDA that while eating dinner at a restaurant a customer at the next table was smoking an e cigarette.

«The vapor cloud was big enough to come over my table and the e cig smoker was ‘huffing’ it voraciously,» the person, whose name was redacted, wrote. «I got dizzy, my eyes began to water and I ended up taking my food to go because of the intense heartbeat I began to develop.»

One woman wrote that her husband began smoking e cigarettes liberally in his car and home after being told they were safe and that the vapor was «just like water.»

«My 4 year old has had a raspy voice since he started but I really didn’t think anything of it till last night my husband was just puffing away on that thing for hours and I woke up wheezing and unable to breathe.»

Miguel Martin, president of Logic Technology, one of the biggest U.S. e cigarette makers along with Lorillard Inc and privately held NJOY, said the spike in adverse event reports reinforces the importance of regulation, especially in areas governing manufacturing practices and labeling, where standards can vary dramatically.

«Clearly, because of the business opportunities, you have companies in an unregulated environment that are importing without checks and balances,» he said, adding that while Logic pays attention to quality control, «some other companies just are not having the same diligence or focus.»


Most e cigarettes are made in China and sold under more than 300 brands in the United States, some through retail stores, others online.

The quality of the products is inconsistent, however, making it difficult to tease out the cause of any health problems.

One smoker began using e cigarettes following dental surgery after the dentist said quitting smoking would speed the healing process, according to a report filed last October with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission that was forwarded to the


«It blew up in my mouth while inhaling, burning my stitches and gum, lip and fingers,» the report said.

Others complained of over heating devices.

«The electric cigarette gets hot when you use it and alters the taste buds,» wrote one consumer. «I just recently realized what was turning my taste buds black.»

It is not possible to draw general conclusions from individual case reports, but there is a growing recognition that the inconsistent quality of the devices, aside from any risk inherent in the inhalation of nicotine vapor, poses potential safety risks.

In a bid to address quality concerns, some e cigarette makers are beginning to make them, either partially or wholly, in the United States.

Reynolds American Inc, which began selling its Vuse e cigarettes in Colorado last July and expects to expand nationwide this summer, makes its products in Kansas and North Carolina, though it still imports its batteries from China.

The reason, Richard Smith, a Reynolds spokesman said, is that inconsistent quality is turning off potential customers.

«There has been a high level of trial among adult consumers but a low level of adoption,» he said.

While the cost may be higher than sourcing ready made products from China, the pay off, Reynolds is betting, will be customer loyalty. If a quality problem arises during the manufacturing process, Smith said, «we can identify and fix it.»

(Reporting by Toni Clarke in Washington Additional reporting by Jilian Mincer in New York Editing by Michele Gershberg)

E-cigarette crackdown coming? — abc news

By Richard Davies
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Apr 14, 2014 9 05am

(Photo Credit Getty Images)

Morning Money Memo

Pressure is growing for federal regulation of the booming e cigarette industry. Supporters say e cigs help people quit the habit, giving them the nicotine they crave without the unhealthy smoke of traditional cigarettes. But a new congressional report written largely by staffers for Democratic senators and House members says concerns about electronic cigarettes underscore the need for regulation. Industry critics say an array of flavors and marketing might appeal to young people. There are no age restrictions and no uniform warning labels. Electronic cigarettes are battery powered devices that heat a nicotine solution and create vapor that’s inhaled. A 2009 law gave the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate tobacco products. The agency first said it planned to assert authority over e cigarettes in 2011 but has yet to do so.

Google wants retailers to know exactly what they’re getting when spending large amounts of money on Internet advertising. The online search and advertising leader is reportedly partnering with half a dozen retailers to match tracking cookies on users’ computers to in store sales information. «The company’s new pilot program involves AdWords, its biggest advertising program, in which advertisers place links next to Internet search results,» reports The Wall Street Journal. Google makes money when computer users click on an ad and visit the advertiser’s website. The new program might help brick and mortar retailers link the effectiveness of online advertising to sales in their stores.

Google will sell Google Glass eyewear for $1,500 for one day only. Then the offer will be withdrawn. Glass will go on sale Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. ET. It’ll be first come first serve, but Google hasn’t said how many they’ll make available.

The first quarter corporate earnings season kicks into high gear this week with more than 50 large companies reporting results. The data could have a big impact on the volatile stock market. Last week was ugly for many investors. The high technology dominated Nasdaq is down more than 8 percent from its early March high. Friday was only the second time this year the index has closed below the 4,000 mark. International stock markets fell today after two days of U.S. declines and forecasts of lower corporate profits.

Tensions over violence in Eastern Ukraine are a drag on global markets, especially European stocks. Wholesale oil prices rose to $104 for West Texas crude. Ukraine put its military on alert after pro Russian gunmen seized control of government buildings in the east.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio Twitter daviesnow

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