• France edition
 
Report: e-cigarettes are ‘potentially carcinogenic’
French actress Karole Rocher smokes an electronic cigarette on May 19, 2013. Are the devices more harmful than we thought? Photo: Loic Venance/AFP

Report: e-cigarettes are ‘potentially carcinogenic’

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

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)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France's jobless rate hits new record high
France's jobless rate just keeps creeping up. Photo: AFP

France's jobless rate hits new record high

The number of people out of work in crisis-hit France hit a new high in July, official statistics published on Wednesday showed, in another blow for President Francois Hollande. READ  

'I love business': French PM woos employers
French PM Manuel Valls is applauded by employer's union chief Pierre Gattaz. Photo: Eric Piermont/AFP

'I love business': French PM woos employers

A day after naming a new reformist cabinet French PM Manuel Valls faced members of the country’s powerful employers' union, who gave him a standing ovation after telling them "I love business" and that France and Germany needed to stay close. READ  

IN IMAGES: Artists unveil mechanical dragon
A famous French arts troupe has unveiled its 'dragon'. Photo: Jean-Sebastian Evrard/AFP

IN IMAGES: Artists unveil mechanical dragon

A legendary French artistic collective has raised the curtain on its latest outlandish creation: a massive fire breathing mechanical dragon that is headed for China. See photos and video of the beast here. READ  

Ebola: Air France stops flights to Sierra Leone
Air France has suspended flights to Sierra Leone due to the Ebola outbreak.

Ebola: Air France stops flights to Sierra Leone

France's flagship airline Air France announced on Wednesday it was suspending flights to Sierra Leone from Thursday because of an Ebola outbreak that has killed at least 1,400 people in West Africa. READ  

Paris set to welcome four new tourist attractions
What is it? A spaceship? No it's an art-gallery. Photo: Louis Vuitton Foundation

Paris set to welcome four new tourist attractions

The Local takes a look at four Paris attractions that are set to open or be completed in the coming weeks. There's plenty for art lovers, shoppers and those with a good head for heights. READ  

Opinion - France and Germany
'Merkel now needs to meet Hollande halfway'
That's close enough. Merkel needs to meet Hollande half way to help him Photo: AFP

'Merkel now needs to meet Hollande halfway'

After the French president ousted his rebel Economy Minister for an outspoken attack on Germany and replaced him with a social liberal ex-banker, political commentator Stefan Ulrich argues that Chancellor Angela Merkel now needs to repay the favour. READ  

IMF chief Lagarde 'charged' in French probe
Christine Lagarde, who revealed she had been charged on Wednesday after being questioned as part of a corruption investigation. Photo: AFP

IMF chief Lagarde 'charged' in French probe

The head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde has been placed under formal investigation in France on allegations of "negligence" after a probe into suspected corruption dating from her time as French finance minister. READ  

Emmanuel Macron
Ten facts about France's economics whizzkid
Here are ten things you need to know about the man in charge of France's economy. Photo: Eric Piermont/AFP

Ten facts about France's economics whizzkid

From his elite education to a scandal involving a married teacher 20 years his senior, here's are ten things you need to know about France's 36-year-old Economy Minister, Emmanuel Macron. READ  

France sees steep rise in deaths of street children
Homeless children pictured on the streets of Paris. Photo: Joel Saget/AFP

France sees steep rise in deaths of street children

New figures released this week laid bare the problem of homelessness in France with 454 people living on the streets having died last year. That total included 15 children, which was a steep rise on the previous year. READ  

France's New Government
Hollande plays final card as he splits from left
Presidnet François Hollande and in the background his new Economy Minister - the former Rothschild banker, Emmanuel Macron. Photo: AFP

Hollande plays final card as he splits from left

France's embattled president played his final card this week in naming his third government that included a former Rothschild banker as Economy Minister. The move was a clear, but potentially hazardous break from the left of his party. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Ten things you need to know about France's economics whizzkid
International
VIDEO: Watch the top five street scams to avoid in Paris
Politics
Take a look at the bulging to-do list that awaits France's new government
Politics
Six questions for France after Hollande ousts rebels
International
Choosing schools in France: Do you go international or French?
Gallery
From kissing to bad-mouthing: Ten ways expats in France drive you mad
Culture
Ten things you need to know about the Liberation of Paris:
Travel
Watch this impressive time lapse video and you'll want to move to Paris
National
Veiled Muslim woman on a French beach prompts politician's angry rant
Travel
Forget Paris and Provence where are the least touristy areas of France?
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The battle to liberate Paris from the Nazis
National
What France means to you in just one tweet
National
15 French 'false friends' you need to watch out for
International
12 reasons to invest in Paris and seven not to
National
French hamlet 'Death to Jews' mulls name change
National
French tourist caught in Pompeii brothel romp
International
'Forget the Anglo-media's image of France, the reality is much different'
Culture
VIDEO: Francophile Robin Williams enjoyed poking fun at the French
Travel
Six reasons why France is the world's top tourist destination
International
Remembering the 'forgotten campaign' in the liberation of France
Gallery
VIDEO: French bucket list - The 12 best things to do in France
International
Do three French cities deserve to be in top 10 "World 's Most Unfriendly"?
Gallery
Don't make a faux pas! Ten things not to do when working in France
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se