'Electronic cigarettes could be dangerous'

Health Ministry warns against using smokeless devices as “their contribution to smoking cessation hasn't been proven."

Man smoking 370 (photo credit: Ina Fassbender/Reuters)
Man smoking 370
(photo credit: Ina Fassbender/Reuters)
Electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) have become popular around the world among those who have difficulty giving up the addictive nicotine in cigarettes and other tobacco products. But now the Health Ministry has warned against using the smokeless devices, as “their contribution to smoking cessation has not been proven, and e-cigs are liable in come cases to pose a real health danger.”
The “certificates of safety” that manufacturers and marketers distribute to purchases of the devices “can’t be trusted,” as they do not undergo any “orderly process of monitoring,” the ministry said on Wednesday.
Recently, e-cigs with a cartridge containing a liquid “alternative” to the toxic substances in cigarettes have been sold around the world, it continued. There are two types of e-cigs, the ministry said. One is an electronic device held in the mouth that contains nicotine, while the other is a device without nicotine whose active ingredient is unknown.
Those containing nicotine – like skin patches and chewing gum – are classified as drugs, so they have to be included on the pharmaceutical registry. Only after they are registered can the ministry issue an import license. To apply for such authorization, the importers must present documents showing that the US Food and Drug Administration approved the product and present genuine research on efficacy and safety, as well as relevant approval of the manufacturing process.
But since there isn’t a single e-cig importer that can present such documents, they cannot be registered for importation, and no such product has been approved, the ministry said.
The ministry has no authority as a regulator to prevent or delay the import of e-cigs that do not contain nicotine because it doesn’t know what is inside, it said.
Thus the ministry urged the public to stay away from ecigs, as some authorities around the world have found dangerous and even carcinogenic substances in these products. “There is no research that prove safety and efficacy of the products. The manufacturing conditions are problematic, as there is no uniformity or quality control,” the ministry continued.
Also, there is no uniformity in the amount and concentration of the chemicals that reach the user’s lungs, according to the ministry, which said that there have been reports of problems with the battery and leakages from the cartridges.