• France's news in English

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.

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. 

Related articles

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Video - 'Stop Jihadism'
French parents tell of losing their kids to jihad
French parents take part in campaign to dissaude youngsters from joingin jihad. Photo: Stop.jihadisme.gouv.fr

French parents tell of losing their kids to jihad

31 minutes ago

A group of French parents, whose sons and daughters left home to fight jihad after converting to Islam, have spoken out about their suffering and constant anguish as part of a moving new government TV campaign.

Air France identifies 20 'thugs' behind mauling
Air France's Pierre Plissonnier clambers over a fence to safety. Photo: AFP

Air France identifies 20 'thugs' behind mauling

2 hours ago

Air France has identified 20 "thugs" they believe were behind the attack on two executives on Monday as the company is forced to deny it has plans to cut a further 5,000 jobs.

French mags pay over Gayet-Hollande photos
François Hollande and Julie Gayet who is desperate to stay out of the limelight. Photo: AFP

French mags pay over Gayet-Hollande photos

3 hours ago

Two French magazines have fallen foul of France's strict privacy laws after publishing photos of the President François Hollande and his actress girlfriend Julie Gayet during a short holiday together.

French bakers fined for opening too often
Photo: AFP

French bakers fined for opening too often

19 hours ago

Four French bakers in the south west have fallen foul of France’s strict laws on opening times by selling their baguettes every day of the week. They say they will now have to lay off staff.

French town evacuated over 'Made in Syria' soap
The parcels in question contained soap made in the Syrian city of Aleppo. Photo: Bernard Gagnon

French town evacuated over 'Made in Syria' soap

19 hours ago

In what could have been a scene from a Hollywood film, a French village went into lockdown on Tuesday after several parcels marked 'Made in Syria' were found in a house being renovated. But not everything was at it seemed.

France to strip five 'terrorists' of nationality

France to strip five 'terrorists' of nationality

19 hours ago

France is to withdraw the French nationality from five "terrorists" the government announced on Tuesday as it continues to crackdown on homegrown jihadists.

Topless pic sees French beauty queen dethroned
Eugénie Journée is a second year law student. Image: rmnfm/youtube

Topless pic sees French beauty queen dethroned

19 hours ago

Rules are rules, when it comes to beauty pageants. The newly-crowned Miss Brittany has been stripped of her title and the chance to be Miss France 2015 after she posted a topless fashion snap on her Facebook page.

When angry French workers target their bosses
Maurice Petit, an exec from American company Caterpillar is lead away by workers in 2009. Photo: AFP

When angry French workers target their bosses

23 hours ago

The stripping of Air France chiefs this week is not the only time French workers have taken extreme action against their bosses in a drastic bid to save jobs. Here's a look at five other incidents that could really only happen in France.

Air France cuts
'Lynching' of execs only harms image of France
Air France execs Xavier Broseta and Pierre Plissonnier after the near lynching. Photo: Le Parisien

'Lynching' of execs only harms image of France

1 day ago

Video footage of Air France execs fleeing an angry mob of workers after having their suits and shirts ripped off their backs were beamed around the world on Monday and most agree they will do little to boost the image of France.

Driverless car makes Paris to Bordeaux trip
Look mum, no hands! The driverless Citroën C4 Picasso in action. Photo: PSA

Driverless car makes Paris to Bordeaux trip

1 day ago

A driverless Citroën has completed a 580-kilometre journey from Paris to Bordeaux in a move that poses a serious challenge to tech giant Google and its self-driving car project.

French car makes it from Paris to Bordeaux... without a driver
This pic was enough to see a French beauty queen stripped of her crown
Analysis & Opinion
Opinion: Tearing suits of Air France execs isn't great for France's image
Opinion: France should follow UK and teach drivers not punish them
Paris: See how rundown Gare du Nord became one big disco
When angry French workers target their bosses (and it pays off)
French Riviera floods: Marineland park left under sea of mud
IN PICTURES: French Riviera ravaged by 'apocalyptic' floods
Looters arrested after deadly floods strike southern France
Eight top vegetarian restaurants in France
Indecent exposure: French cops drop trousers at British war memorial
Please France can we just have one emergency phone number
French study: Passive smoking likely to cause kids behavioural problems
Here are 12 reasons why it's worth staying in France
Locals shocked as Nazi banner unfurled in Nice
The secret to more travel for less
Burger King to swallow up Quick in France then take on 'McDo'
OPINION: France's jobless benefit system shouldn't be derided
A Day Without Cars: The ten Paris streets you just have to walk down
Revealed: The 12 new zones for late-night and Sunday shopping in Paris
Here's 12 reasons why France should feel good about itself in 2015
How life in France can both thrill and infuriate expats
What will the future map of Paris look like if the mayor gets her way?
jobs available