• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Report: e-cigarettes are ‘potentially carcinogenic’

Ben McPartland · 26 Aug 2013, 09:42

Published: 26 Aug 2013 09:42 GMT+02:00

Electronic cigarettes have come under yet more scrutiny in France with the association “60 million Consumers” raising health fears about the devices, in a new report.

Earlier this year France’s Minister for Health Marisol Touraine struck a blow against the booming industry by announcing her intention to ban electronic cigarettes in public places as well as restricting their use to over 18s.

The report by “60 million Consumers”, released on Monday, is also unlikely to go down well with manufacturers of the e-cigarettes after concluding that “they are not as safe” as they are made out to be and are “potentially carcinogenic”.

“Electronic cigarettes are far from the harmless gadgets that they presented as,” wrote Thomas Laurenceau editor of the magazine which reports the findings of France's “National Consumer Institute” (INC). Laurenceau said the results has been passed on to the French government.

“This is not a reason to ban them, but to place them under better control,” he added.

The association made its conclusions after testing 10 different models of e-cigarettes both disposable and rechargeable.

The device, which was first invented in China back in 2003 gives the user a similar sensation to smoking a cigarette. The battery powered, pen-sized products contain liquid nicotine that is turned into a vapour which is then inhaled.

Their obvious health benefit as opposed to smoking is that they don't contain tobacco and other carcinogens found in cigarettes.

However perhaps most worrying for France’s one million users of the devices was the new report's claims that, thanks to a new method of testing, they had found “carcinogenic molecules in a significant amount” in the vapour produced in the products.

“In three cases out of 10, for products with or without nicotine, the content of formaldehyde was as much as the levels found in some conventional cigarettes,” the report said.

Scientists also found traces of acrolein, a toxic molecule emmited in quantities “that exceeded the amount found in the smoke of some cigarettes.”

Traces of Acetaldehyde, another potentially toxic chemical, were also found, albeit at lower levels than conventional cigarettes and “potentially toxic” trace metals were also discovered in some of the models.

But Darren Moon, who runs e-cigarette store Vap Shop in Paris told The Local on Monday that e-cigarettes will always be safer than normal cigarettes, no matter what is in the vapour.

"The fact is, there have been no studies carried out into the long term affects of smoking e-cigarettes. We have no figures or feedback to go on," he said.

"E-cigarettes are only supposed to be used in the short term by people who want to stop smoking. Many of the chemicals used in the liquid are organic and no matter what is in the product they will never be as bad as normal cigarettes.

"Once people have used e-cigarettes to successfully give up smoking, then we recommend they give up using the electronic devices," Moon said.

The report also criticised the lack of a safety cap on some refills, given that nicotine is particularly toxic for children and potentially lethal if it is ingested in high doses.

Laurenceau said he had also alerted authorities to certain cases of incorrect labelling on the content of electronic cigarettes including the reference to the nicotine dose.

60 million Consumers has called on the government to act “in order to take into account the risks” associated with e-cigarettes.

Jordan Bork, who owns an e-cigarette store in New York dismissed the findings of the report, claiming the method of testing was not "realistic".

"Their "new method" of testing, that results in their flawed results, comes from them preforming non-realistic tests on the e-liquid of e-cigarettes such as heating it well over 1700 degrees (F)," Bork told The Local. 

"Far beyond the temperature any realistic e-cigarette would be capable of doing. Also, tests were preformed on various products derived from China, lower quality products which can sometimes contain contaminants.

60 million Consumers is not the first organisation in France to raise concerns over potential health hazards of smoking e-cigarettes with health experts previously expressing concerns about the compound propylene glycol, which is used in the liquid.

Story continues below…

As far back as May 2011 the French health agency AFSSAPS advised against using the devices, saying they still contained nicotine, which even at a low concentration could lead to ‘damaging side effects’.

Tobacco kills around 73, 000 people in France each year. On Friday a report concluded that not enough was being done to tackle the rates of cancers caused by smoking, which were some of the highest in Europe. 

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
'I feel no guilt': French boss defends €2.5m salary hike
"I earn this much". Peugeot Citroen boss Carlos Tavares defends his salary. Photo: AFP

The boss of French car giant Peugeot says he feels no guilt over his €2.5million salary rise and the criticism is all part of his pay packet.

Nine must-see landmarks in Paris you may have missed
Photo: AFP

You've seen the Eiffel Tower and the Notre Dame Cathedral. So what next?

Cap on EU roaming charges set to kick in
Photo: zoetnet/Flickr

EU mobile users will soon be calling from Alicante to Zagreb at lower prices.

UK pair charged with funding Paris attacks suspect
Photo: Police

Two UK nationals have been charged with handing over to cash to a suspect in the Paris terror attacks.

Paris makes love-lock bridge even more love-lock proof
Photo: Michel Gauret/No Love Locks

Good luck attaching a love lock now.

France gets tough on Muslim footballers praying on pitch
Archive photo of muslims praying on a sports pitch in France. Photo: AFP

Authorities in the Riviera city of Nice are cracking down on Muslims praying on their football pitches, arguing it is against France's Republican principles.

What's on in France: Ten great things to do in May
Photo: AFP

Events to keep you entertained as summer approaches.

Labour reform protests
Who are the masked rioters causing havoc in France?
Photos: AFP

Who's smashing up shops, banks, and bus stops - and attacking the French police force?

Defending 'monsters': Meet Abdeslam's French lawyer
Frank Berton, lawyer to suspected Paris terror attacker Salah Abdeslam. Photo: AFP

Even terrorists need a lawyer. And the Frenchman defending Salah Abdeslam says he hesitated to take the job.

Dozens more held after violent clashes in Paris
Photos: AFP

Another 24 people were arrested in Paris overnight, following a day of protests that left two dozen police officers injured.

Sponsored Article
How to launch your international career
Society
Protesters clash with police over France's new labour laws
Sponsored Article
What's the best way for expats to transfer money abroad?
National
French dangerously 'unprepared' for future natural disasters
Is it really safe to come to France for Euro 2016?
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
National
Salah Abdeslam: Pot-smoking 'little moron' is finally back in Paris
Society
PICTURES: Snow falls in Paris... at the end of April?
Rail strike: Passengers in France face major disruption
Cats in a cafe?!? Nine of the quirkiest things you can see in Paris
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
National
VIDEO: The moment a Paris suicide bomber blew himself up
National
Why there's another rail strike in France and why there will be more
National
Winter is coming (back). Why is France so cold right now?
National
WWI's Anzac Day heroes honoured in northern France service
Lifestyle
VIDEO: Did you know all these stars spoke great French?
Culture
How did the French end up with their 'crazy' numbers?
Politics
Why this man could become the next president of France
Society
VIDEO: Jewellers in southern France raided by... swarm of bees
Culture
Did you know the strange origins of these six French curse words?
Why are more and more people dying on French roads?
National
VIDEO: Mass street brawl erupts at Paris migrant camp
Culture
Film 'Chocolat' highlights taboo of race problem in French cinema
Society
British people have been urged to come to France... and to get naked
Culture
15 reasons Clermont-Ferrand is the best place in France
National
Eight tips for buying wine in a French supermarket
Culture
Steven Spielberg and Jodie Foster top star-studded Cannes cast
2,780
jobs available