Electronic cigarettes in the USA: a summary of available toxicology data and suggestions for the future

Michael S Orr
Tobacco Control 2014, 23 Suppl 2: ii18-22

OBJECTIVE: To review the available evidence evaluating the toxicological profiles of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) in order to understand the potential impact of e-cigarettes on individual users and the public health.

METHODS: Systematic literature searches were conducted between October 2012 and October 2013 using five electronic databases. Search terms such as 'e-cigarettes' and 'electronic delivery devices' were used to identify the toxicology information for e-cigarettes.

RESULTS: As of October 2013, the scientific literature contains very limited information regarding the toxicity of e-cigarettes commercially available in the USA. While some preliminary toxicology data suggests that e-cigarette users are exposed to lower levels of toxicants relative to cigarette smokers, the data available is extremely limited at this time. At present, there is insufficient toxicological data available to perform thorough risk assessment analyses for e-cigarettes; few toxicology studies evaluating e-cigarettes have been conducted to date, and standard toxicological testing paradigms have not been developed for comparing disparate types of tobacco products such as e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes.

CONCLUSIONS: Overall, the limited toxicology data on e-cigarettes in the public domain is insufficient to allow a thorough toxicological evaluation of this new type of tobacco product. In the future, the acquisition of scientific datasets that are derived from scientifically robust standard testing paradigms, include comprehensive chemical characterisation of the aerosol, provide information on users' toxicant exposure levels, and from studies replicated by independent researchers will improve the scientific community's ability to perform robust toxicological evaluations of e-cigarettes.

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