• France's news in English
 

Report: e-cigarettes are ‘potentially carcinogenic’

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. 

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Alps murders: Ex-soldier emerges as chief suspect
French prosecutor Eric Maillaud speaking to reporters shortly after the murders. Photo: AFP

Alps murders: Ex-soldier emerges as chief suspect

A new book about the brutal 2012 murders of a British-Iraqi family and a French cyclist in the Alps has revealed that a former soldier in the French Foreign Legion has been identified as the number one suspect. READ  

US fighter jets escort Air France flight after threat
An Air France flight from Paris to New York had to be escorted by US fighter jets after a bogus terrorist threat. Photo: Lcarus/flickr

US fighter jets escort Air France flight after threat

US warplanes were scrambled to escort an Air France passenger jet flying from Paris to New York on Monday, following one of several threats against commercial aircraft that proved to be unfounded. READ  

French baker 'tried to kill girlfriend with rolling pin'
Photo: Freeimages

French baker 'tried to kill girlfriend with rolling pin'

A baker has been arrested near the southern French city of Nice for allegedly attempting to kill his waitress girlfriend with a rolling pin, prosecutors said on Monday. READ  

French refugee thriller wins Cannes Palme d'Or
Jacques Audiard (C) poses with Sri Lankan actress Kalieaswari Srinivasan (L) and Sri Lankan actor Jesuthasan Antonythasan during a photocall after he was awarded with the Palme d'Or. Photo: AFP

French refugee thriller wins Cannes Palme d'Or

A French thriller spotlighting the plight of traumatised refugees building new lives, "Dheepan", captured the Cannes Film Festival's Palme d'Or top prize on Sunday. READ  

French man calls in bomb alert to delay plane
Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard / AFP

French man calls in bomb alert to delay plane

French police have arrested a man who called in a false bomb alert to an airport to delay his girlfriend's flight because she was in danger of missing it, prosecutors said on Sunday READ  

Cannes race wide open on eve of awards
Cate Blanchett in Cannes. Photo: Valery Haché/AFP

Cannes race wide open on eve of awards

The competition for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival wraps up Saturday with a clutch of favourites jockeying for one of global cinema's most coveted prizes. READ  

Waterloo: Why is it still taboo for the French?
A Waterloo reenactment. Photo: AFP

Waterloo: Why is it still taboo for the French?

France stood accused this week of "sulking" because it failed to nominate any high-ranking official to attend the gigantic commemoration for the 200-year anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. READ  

France's cheapest holiday spots revealed
Holidayers in Nice, southern France. Photo: AFP

France's cheapest holiday spots revealed

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Paris is the most expensive region in France to spend a summer holiday... but where is the cheapest? A new study has found the answer. READ  

France pulls up sunken tyres from artificial reefs
The tyres are hauled up from the seabed. Photo: AFP

France pulls up sunken tyres from artificial reefs

Tourists and film stars hitting the beach at the French Riviera resort of Cannes may be blissfully unaware but lurking beneath the sparkling waves are tens of thousands of now troublesome scrap tyres, sunk deliberately to boost marine development. READ  

French films
The best French films you've never heard of
French actor Tahar Rahim in a scene from A Prophet. Photo: YouTube/Screengrab

The best French films you've never heard of

With the Cannes Film Festival nearing its end and with everyone talking about everything film - we take a look back at the best ten French movies you've probably never heard of, thanks to French cinema expert Judith Prescott. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
Take a tour of the best Metro stations that Paris has to offer
National
Soon there'll be a fixed fare for a taxi ride from the airport into Paris
National
Drug dealers in Marseille are offering customers loyalty cards
Soon there'll be no minimum for using your bank card in France
Features
Eurovision is around the corner - and we don't fancy France's chances
Features
Fancy starting a business and living in Paris? There's help available
National
Are you fearing a Brexit? Maybe it's time to become a French citizen
How hard-up French are tempted by money to take migrants to the UK
Bupa
Sponsored Article
Healthcare: 9 questions every expat should ask
Education
More English words (including 'le selfie') sneak into French
Charlie Hebdo to give €4.3m to attack victims
National
French Protestants bless gay marriage
Opinion
Why elitism is dragging France down
Features
RECIPE: How to make your own picnic-perfect meringues
Business & Money
French tax declaration deadline: Key things to remember
VIDEO: Can YOU pronounce the trickiest word in French?
France tops holiday wish list for children
National
Study: Women do bulk of housework in France
National
VIDEO: Police use force on Calais migrants
National
This man is France's Instagram king. But who else makes the top list?
Features
Free museum entry, film festivals, sports... see What's On this in May
Culture
Behind the curtain: A closer look at the Cannes Film Festival
National
It's a boy! Baby born on Air France flight to Paris
Features
Love-locked: Whatever happened to Paris's beautiful bridges?
'Forget the UK election, expats should be able to vote in France'
Thomas Piketty backs Miliband for Britain but not Hollande for France
Gallery
The most spectacular sunset pictures from around France
National
France tells migrants in Calais to 'forget the UK and stay here'
Who's to blame? Trial after Frenchman dies downing 56 shots
Society
VIDEO: See what's beneath the surface of the French Riviera
National
French teen suicide after sex video web bullying
France launches bid to buy Europe's biggest and most spectacular dune
Business & Money
Why May 2015 is the best month in years to work in France
Five great outdoor bars in Paris to check out this summer
Double standards? French Muslim barred from class over long skirt
National
France goes on the defensive after UN experts say 'racism is trivialised'
Five reasons we should be worried about France's new snooping laws
International
The French don't seem to care about the UK election and that's normal
Culture
Only in France? Naked comedian stuns French culture minister
Migrant camps spring up in the heart of Paris
International
France bags another fighter jet deal but should Paris thank the US?
Society
French elevator protocol: Greeting, flirting and yes, even sex
Travel
Getting from CDG airport to Paris by road should now be a lot quicker
Politics
Why all the dodgy ties? A French view of the UK general election
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