E-Cigs May Be More Toxic Than Real Cigarettes: Study

smoking cig tlsA new study suggests that formaldehyde levels in e-cigarettes may be five to 15 times higher than in regular cigarettes, NBC News reported.

For the study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday, researchers analyzed aerosolized e-liquid in “tank system” e-cigarettes to detect formaldehyde-releasing agents in “hidden” form at various voltages. They found that high levels of this “hidden” formaldehyde can be produced when e-cigarette liquid is vaped at a high voltage. Read more on NBC.

This content, and any other content on TLS, may not be republished or reproduced without prior permission from TLS. Copying or reproducing our content is both against the law and against Halacha. To inquire about using our content, including videos or photos, email us at [email protected].

Stay up to date with our news alerts by following us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

**Click here to join over 15,000 receiving our Whatsapp Status updates!**

**Click here to join the official TLS WhatsApp Community!**

Got a news tip? Email us at [email protected], Text 415-857-2667, or WhatsApp 609-661-8668.


  1. Co-author James F. Pankow, of Portland State University, said this doesn’t mean e-cigarettes are more dangerous than regular cigarettes and that researchers were only looking at one chemical out of the thousands in tobacco smoke.

  2. Moshe, keep burying your head in the sand!
    E-cigarettes may be less dangerous, as dangerous or more dangerous than regular cigarettes. The fact is that there is an element of toxicity in these “safer” cigarettes which does pose health risks, so danger does exist in this product.

  3. I’m not getting into this but… Altria is the parent company of Philip Morris. Altria makes NuMark e-cigs (in China). This company has been in business for 180 years and patented e-cigarettes over a decade ago. With the FDA backing off and losing Supreme Court decisions and Big Tobacco companies having the largest lobbies in Washington, second only to Big Pharma (hey, they want to classify oregano as a drug) the wallets will decide this issue. Altria has paid dividends straight every 6 months for the last 45 years.

    Remember, Big tobacco routinely pays out billion dollar lawsuits to families of ex-smokers (RIP). You might say that’s just a Smoke Drop in the bucket. Speaking of drops, you better get your Smith Brothers now before the FDA requires a prescription. Oh, and your oregano, did I mention oregano?

  4. When will people get it? Putting a foreign substance in your body is going to have repercussions. By now everyone should understand how the game works. A new product comes out and it is heralded as safe as can be, the next great gift to mamkind. There’s one small issue, we don’t know anything about it, there are no long term studies. Then the discoveries begin, the studies, the effects, the warnings etc etc. All the while people are in denial. That’s what happened with cigarettes and that’s what will happen with e-cigarettes. First denial, then justification and reasoning, excuses. … If it’s not meant to go in your body leave it alone.

  5. Why are we smoking anything? Don’t tell me there are still dolts left who think smoking is healthy and the one vice they are allowed because of their oh-so-busy schedule.

  6. I know a few people who quit smoking because of e-cigarretes. The article posted above is a small part of a larger article. It compares one chemical found in both cigarettes and e-cigs, yet it doesn’t mention the other 10,000 potentially harmful chemicals found in cigarettes that don’t exist in e-cigs. Furthermore it doesn’t discuss “the high voltage” necessary to release the Formaldahyde.

    I don’t think anyone would encourage someone to smoke e-cigs, but if someone has been smoking for a long time, the e-cigs can be a good tool to help them.

    It is important to bear in mind that the government is making a heavy push to regulate e-cigs. This will allow them to tax them. Cigarettes generate billions of dollars for the government, and they see e-cigs as cutting into their revenue.

    Reuters article is copied below

    WASHINGTON, Jan 21 (Reuters) – People who smoke high-voltage e-cigarettes have greater exposure to formaldehyde, a suspected carcinogen, than those who keep the voltage low, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.

    The study, which critics say is misleading and lacks context, is the latest contribution to a debate on the safety of e-cigarettes that has so far has yielded little long-term data, though most experts believe they are less toxic than combustible cigarettes.

    Researchers from Portland State University took flavored nicotine liquid made by Halo Cigs, a private company, and tested it in a personal vaporizer from Innokin. The vaporizer allows consumers to adjust the voltage from 3.3V to 5.0V. The higher the voltage the greater the nicotine kick, but also the greater the amount of formaldehyde.

    E-cigarette liquids typically contain propylene glycol, which when heated is known to release formaldehyde gas. “Vaping” at high voltage also produced formaldehyde-containing compounds known as hemiacetals, the researchers found.

    Formaldehyde inhaled as a gas been associated with an increased risk of leukemia and nasopharyngeal cancer, which affects the upper part of the throat behind the nose.

    It is not known exactly where formaldehyde contained in hemiacetals gets deposited in the body or whether it is similarly toxic, said James Pankow, one of the study’s authors.

    “There has never been a cancer study with hemiacetals,” Pankow said in an interview.

    Absent such a study, the authors estimated the formaldehyde-related cancer risk associated with e-cigarettes by extrapolating from data on formaldehyde in cigarettes.

    They concluded that the life-time risk of developing formaldehyde-related cancer at roughly 1 in 200 for high-voltage e-cigarettes versus 1 in 1,000 for cigarettes – at least five times higher. They found no increased risk for people vaping at a low voltage.

    Dr. Neal Benowitz, a nicotine expert at the University of California, San Francisco, said the study could prove useful to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as it prepares to regulate e-cigarettes, potentially including limits on formaldehyde.

    But he questioned the legitimacy of comparing the effect of formaldehyde delivered in a cigarette to that delivered via hemiacetal, in droplet form, in an e-cigarette. The effect on organs could be entirely different, he said.

    Other critics said that in the real world most “vapers” do not push the voltage to the levels seen in the study as the taste would become unpalatable. They also noted that the overall health risk of conventional cigarettes, which contain 70,000 toxins in addition to formaldehyde, is far greater than any formaldehyde risk associated with e-cigarettes.

    “Lifelong smokers face a greater than 1 in 2 chance of dying from smoking-related diseases, including a roughly 1 in 10 chance of dying from lung cancer,” said Jed Rose, director of the Center for Smoking Cessation at Duke University Medical Center.

    Pankow conceded that the study could have contained more context about overall relative risk, but said the authors “just wanted to get it out.”

    They submitted it to the NEJM in the form of a letter, which a spokeswoman for the journal said was peer-reviewed. Pankow said letters tend to be less detailed than other studies.

    David Abrams, executive director of the Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies at the anti-tobacco group Legacy, said he was concerned the study would be taken out of context “in the worst possible way.”

    For most vapers who use e-cigarettes as intended, he said, the findings show “there are non-detectable levels of formaldehyde … which means people can use them to help them quit smoking lethal cigarettes.”

    (Reporting by Toni Clarke in Washington; Editing by Michele Gershberg and Richard Chang)

  7. Nicotine is a great psychological self-experiment for understanding addiction. And then, after a few months, you quit. If you don’t, you’re making an idiotic tradeoff – the years of life expectancy you’ll lose can be the years of great advances that you won’t get to see… Read Ray Kurzweil.

  8. The deception of measuring formaldehyde in e-cigarette aerosol: the difference between laboratory measurements and true exposure

    By Dr Farsalinos

    A new trend is emerging in the e-cigarette research community of obtaining a variable voltage/wattage device, applying high energy to an atomizer and measuring aldehydes (mostly formaldehyde) released to the aerosol (vapor). The story started early last year, continued recently with a story from Japan, and is now followed by a letter published in New England Journal of Medicine.

    This time, researchers obtained a variable voltage device, and applied 3.3 and 5.0 volts to an (unnamed) atomizer for 4 seconds per puff. At 3.3 volts they found no formaldehyde, while at 5.0 volts they found formaldehyde levels up to 15 times higher than in tobacco cigarette smoke. But there are major problems in this study.

    For start, the authors did not find formaldehyde but formaldehyde hemiacetals. This is a combination of formaldehyde and alcohols (formaldehyde-propylene glycol or formaldehyde-glycerol). The authors characterized them as formaldehyde-releasing agents, providing a reference to a study evaluating contact dermatitis from such agents. However, looking at the study referenced, it is clear that those formaldehyde-releasing agents have nothing to do with formaldehyde hemiacetals found in e-cigarette aerosol. Moreover, there is absolutely no evidence that hemiacetals are toxic or carcinogenic. In fact, it is possible that the formation of hemiacetals might protect against damage induced by formaldehyde. Nevertheless, the authors considered the risk equal to formaldehyde and calculated the risk of cancer.

    There are many other major issues in that study. The authors fail to realize that voltage levels provide no information about the thermal load of an e-cigarette device. It seems that both the researchers and the reviewers who approved the study for publication missed that energy should be expressed in watts. As a result, we do not know how many watts were applied to the atomizer. However, there is a way to approximate this, through the information provided about liquid consumption per puff. The authors report that 5mg of liquid were consumed at 3.3 volts. Based on measurements I have performed, such consumption is observed at about 6-7 watts at 4-second puffs. Thus, the atomizer resistance is probably 1.6-1.8 Ohms. This means that at 5 volts the energy was around 14-16watts. That would be an extremely high value for most commercially-available atomizers (excluding some rebuildables which can withstand such high wattage levels). Thus, it is more than obvious that once again the atomizer was overheated, which of course will result in very high levels of formaldehyde production. What the authors ignore is that these conditions, commonly called dry-puff phenomenon (which is explained in detail in one of my published studies), are easily detected by the vapers. In fact, overheating results in an unpleasant taste that none can withstand. As a result, no vaper is ever using the e-cigarette at such conditions and, thus, will never be exposed to such levels of formaldehyde. The story published in New England Journal of Medicine is similar to finding carcinogens in an overcooked piece of meat that none can ever eat. Of course the findings are true, but none will be exposed to the levels found.

    I am concerned that we will very often see stories like this. The scientific community must realize that variable wattage devices cannot be used at any wattage levels with any available atomizer. Even for naïve users, the harsh taste of the dry puff phenomenon is unbearable. I would suggest scientists to try themselves an e-cigarette at dry puff conditions (it is very easy, just use an atomizer without enough liquid), and they will find out themselves. In fact, it is very easy to produce as much aldehydes as you want in the lab with an e-cigarette device. However, this has nothing to do with exposure from e-cigarette use.

    Our team is currently working on identifying the temperature of the dry-puff phenomenon and evaluating the levels of aldehydes released at those temperatures as well as in temperatures associated with conventional vaping. We will have the results available in a few months, and we hope that this will end the speculation. Until that time, everyone should understand that measuring aldehydes in e-cigarette aerosol in the lab can be deceptive and is not necessarily associated with exposure of vapers to such levels.

  9. Some of you making a huge offense for your defense, which usually shows your wrong. I hold the the opinion that cigarettes are the “gateway drug” as discussed by many medical authorities. When your ready to quit smoking you quit no gimmicks. I smoked over 4 packs a day and quit years ago after years of smoking.

Comments are closed.