Study: E-Cigarettes no better than puffing on unlit cigarette. Oh yeah: there’s anti-freeze in ‘em too…[Update]

by Mike
Posted February 10th, 2010 at 12:48 pm

**Update: A quick skim through the comments below will show that I clearly dropped the ball on this one. Poor journalism, reporting…pretty much all of the above. As a writer it’s disappointing and as a reader it’s frustrating. All I can do is learn and not be that sloppy again. With that said, I apologize for my oversights and vow to now let that happen again. In the meantime, for more information on e-cigarettes and “vaping”, check out and e-cigarette forums for more helpful information.
When I was at CES last month, I was actually quite shocked at how many E-Cigarette companies I saw on the floor. I’m pretty sure there were at least 4-5. That may seem like nothing when taking into account how many exhibitors were actually there, but truth be told, it is. With the decreasing outlook of smoking in general in the public eye, smokers have been looking for other places or other ways to get their fix. Technology knocked on their door and viola — e-cigarettes.

Billed as “much safer than traditional cigarettes” and able to give users more nicotine in smaller packages, those into smoking and gadgets have found e-cigarettes to be quite the lifesaver (that’s awkward). This whole smokeless smoking obsession seems all fine and dandy, especially with the several e-cigarette manufactures I saw present at CES. However, according to the FDA, e-cigarettes are just as bad if not worse than their older smoking cousins — which is why they banned the import of e-cigarettes almost one year ago.

It gets worse: e-cigarettes tested by the FDA routinely feature chemical compounds such as diethylene glycol — a chemical found in anti-freeze. Last time I checked, it isn’t the greatest of ideas to stroll down to the local auto store and chug a gallon of anti-freeze. Then again, once chemical component alone doesn’t make up anti-freeze. But even still, it should open many e-cigarette users’ eyes.

Finally, the main point of e-cigarettes is to deliver nicotine to the “smoker”. Again, after many studies by the FDA, it’s appearing as if they fail — miserably. According to the FDA’s test results, smoking an e-cigarette, no matter how concentrated, is no different than puffing on an unlit cigarette. The FDA’s first test conducted in the US revealed that smokers, regardless of using real or e-cigarettes, had the same levels of nicotine in their blood. The only difference: for e-smokers, each and every puff of an e-cigarette was full of kiethylene glycol as well as other cancer causing compounds — not the “safe” and “harmless” water vapor that e-cigarette makers claim.

In lieu of all that has been mentioned above, if you had a favorable outlook on e-cigarettes, where does that outlook stand now?


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42 ResponsesLeave a comment
  • Daniel S.
    February 15, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    Since i’ve gotten my E cig i’ve smoked a total of 6 cigarettes, i was a 2 pack a day smoker and i was on the road to death.

    “diethylene glycol” is found in not only antifreeze, but ACTUAL cigarettes (in much higher amounts than the E cig) , loads of food available at the grocery store (which was approved by the FDA) , and many more things.

    I’d like to see them try to take my E cig

    the FDA can fuck off, i guarantee if the FDA / Big tobacco had money invested in this product you wouldn’t be hearing all this about how dangerous E cigs are, which they aren’t.

    • Mike
      February 15, 2010 at 6:36 pm

      Here here, Fuck the FDA!

  • Ron
    February 13, 2010 at 5:52 am

    Wow, hang in there Mike, being a non-smoker/vaper I can see how your initial view might be skewed. E-cigs work bottom line. This comes down to big money and who’s not going to be getting it anymore. With the price of analogs going up a dollar per pack in the very near future seems like people in the tobbaco industry are starting to panic. As stated above what we need is better manufacturing of ecigs and juices to create a more uniform product. I’ve only been vaping for 2 months but the ripple effect of the smokers around be has been profound. It works, and I’ll never choke down another analog again.

  • Bob
    February 12, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    The FDA said Electronic Cigarettes contained Diethylene Glycol, which is found in antifreeze. The truth of the matter is, that Electronic Cigarettes contain Propylene Glycol, which is safe and used in food coloring. Propylene Glycol is also used in “green” antifreeze. If it was to leak in the garage and an animal ingested it, the animal would NOT be harmed. So much for the FDA! I wanted to try them but they were too expensive. Fortunately I found a website that offered a disposable Electronic Cigarette for $6.99 including free shipping. It has 3 cartridges (1 high 1 medium 1 low) each equal to 100 puffs. It’s offered in 3 flavors (Marlboro, Menthol and Tobacco). So I was willing to invest about the price of a traditional pack of cigarettes. They also offer a complete started kit with battery, atomizer, charger and 5 cartridges for $29.95. I understand that once I have the starter kit, I can refill the cartridges for the equivalence of 50 cents a pack or less.

  • carguy50
    February 11, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    Mike, it takes a big man to admit that he made a mistake. Thank you for that. I personally have been using an e cig for 6 weeks now after smoking 50 cigs per day. I have tried everything that you can think of to quit. I did quit once for almost a year BUT there wasn’t one day that I didn’t REALLY want one. after 6 weeks now I don’t ever see me buying another pack…..are e cigs perfect……HELL NO….are they better than tobacco cigs….HELL YES. thank you

  • dan gold
    February 11, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    love e.cigaette

  • Peter
    February 11, 2010 at 10:53 am

    hey man, I like your style - you bring a controversial article, and stay completely open minded to generate good debate. I learned a lot here, thanks. I just got a vaporizer and so far I’m liking it a lot.. to hell with the man..(FDA) How can their studies have any credibility when their “opinion” is always for sale to the highest bidder

    February 11, 2010 at 10:47 am

    hi i smoked 7oz of tobacco a week went to a smoking clinic tried all the tablets and patches they were no help my carbon readings were 29,i have had no tobacco or cigarettes for 22 weeks my reading is now 3 i think that speaks for its self . CHEERS EDDIE

  • Adam
    February 11, 2010 at 10:02 am

    FYI: If you start vaping instead of smoking the Gov will not get their tobacco tax from you, nor will the state. That is the main reason you will see so many slams against them (e-cigs). Also, big tobacco will lose money, and they currently have more lobbyists than anyone. No one care about your health. It’s all about the money.

    Is it any wonder that the leading voice of dissent is coming from Virginia?

    “FDA blocked continued shipments after finding diethylene glycol, a chemical used in antifreeze that is toxic to humans.” Toxic to humans! Oh No! By this logic cigarettes should already be illegal!

    Buy them. Use them. The Gov can go s**t in thier hand.

  • Treece
    February 11, 2010 at 12:22 am

    Wow. Thank you! What a rare and lovely thing this is! )

  • Fragzem
    February 10, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    I strongly suggest, Mike, that you watch this video on youtube:

    And if you know anyone who needs to quit smoking, please forward that along as well.

    Also, refer to for more information, under the science and legal headings.

    • Mike
      February 10, 2010 at 11:07 pm

      Very eye opening and sad at the same time. Good luck.

  • Eric
    February 10, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    Mike, i wish you were a smoker… just don’t “get it”. I will vape an e-cigarette over an anolog any day. I know the effects form the analogs and the benefits from the electronics. I don’t know what journalism school you attended, but when I was in college, our class would of decided that your article was clearly directed at non-smokers while addressing a product used by smokers, written by a non-smoker, maybe I too could write and article about brain surgery, directed at non-neurosurgeons, on which Ginsu knives to use during surgery…makes about as much sense as your article……DO YOUR RESEARCH OR THE INTERNET WILL KICK YOIUR A$$.

  • John
    February 10, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    Well Mike, I have to apologize. I called you a hack on after reading your original article (sorry) and now you seem to be a pretty fair and reasonable guy. I am glad to see you admit that you should have done more research. It takes a big person to admit they made a mistake. I started vaping around Thanksgiving and haven’t had an analog (tobacco cigarette) since November 30.

    I think the thing you really need to focus on now, being a non-smoker, is how passionate and excited the smoking community is about e-cigs. We have been enduring mounting public scorn for many years. I have experienced mothers, hiding their child’s face from me as I walked down the street smoking. I was asked to move in a theater, because a lady complained about the smell of my jacket. I have been routinely turned from a common filthy smoker, into a lowly litterbug by institutions who won’t even pay to put an ashtray near the entrance of their building. And equally often, embarrassed myself and my non-smoking wife by carrying a stubbed out butt inside to ask where a garbage can is. (Honestly, I tried not to just throw my butts anywhere.)

    Many of us now see e-cigarettes as a way to replace something that even we readily admit is a filthy habit, with something not nearly as dangerous for us, and no where near as offensive to others. We just want to maintain our little nicotine habit and not bother anyone, and in return, not be bothered. We’ll live with the risks associated with the nicotine, and whatever else. I think I speak for many an ex-smoker, when I say, a little diethylene glycol? Jeez, Mike, I used to put a paper cylinder full of tobacco in my mouth, LIGHT IT ON FIRE, and suck the smoke into my lungs! I’m happy I found vaping, and I’m glad you’re taking the time to learn something about it.



    • Mike
      February 11, 2010 at 4:06 am

      Thank you John

  • Sean
    February 10, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    Hey Mike,

    I’m not going to drag you over any coals. You’re one of the first people who’s written an article that seemed to bother to read the comments, and then look deeper. Try not to mind the people commenting who may not have read all of the other comments. We tend to be a passionate bunch, and sometimes all this commenting takes on a mechanical quality. Some days we seem to exist in a state of outrage about what’s being said and done about products we believe to be saving our lives.

    Thanks for listening to everyone and following the links. Not something I see…ever, really. I, personally, and I’m sure others as well, can respect and appreciate that.

  • Vicks
    February 10, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    I’d like to clear up a LARGE bit of mis-information in your post….

    e-cigarettes tested by the FDA routinely feature chemical compounds such as diethylene glycol

    is what you wrote….. the FDA’s tests found traces of less than 1% of diethylene glycol in ONE of the 18 cartridges tested…..hardly a routine ingredient, and its presence argues for stronger manufacturing standards, not this panic inducing media feeding-frenzy we’ve been witnessing far and wide across the internet calling for an outright ban on the products.

    I continue to be amazed at the hate and angst spewing from the anti-smoking camps regarding E-Cigs - this product has the ability to SOLVE the war on smoking - it takes care of the stink, the litter, the tars and fine carbon-particulate residues, the second and third hand smoke issues - in short, it takes care of every aspect of social smoking that the public is railing against, AND it’s acceptable to the majority of smokers who try the product.

    I just want someone to tell me (anti-smoking organizations, the FDA, the Pharma and Tobacco companies, any will do) WHY do you hate the E-Cig? WHY does this little gadget inspire so much angst, so much hatred? What has it done to shift the status quo of your STATED goals that you fight so hard and so long to make it disappear?

    Till that’s answered, I’ll be around, out and about, enjoying my vape.

  • Kate
    February 10, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    There’s a good collection of studies here Mike -

    I’m an enthusiast but let me tell you honestly, this invention is fantastic and saves lives. Some people would rather die than quit smoking and I was one of them. I haven’t smoked since July 2008 because vaping is so effective.

  • Treece
    February 10, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    Research is particularly important when you’re writing about something that could save lives, no?

    The FDA press release was pure propaganda (for whatever reason). If you look at the actual analysis, you’ll see (as I and many others have) that the FDA, in fact, proved that e-cigarettes are magnitudes of order safer than smoking.

    In the meantime, I have to wonder how many smokers will read articles like this and keep on smoking….

  • e cig
    February 10, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    Great post mike! LOL…. I love the responses.

    • Mike
      February 10, 2010 at 7:41 pm

      I’ll take that as sarcasm…

  • Anderson
    February 10, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    Hey Mike… I’m glad you made it out to the show, and saw all the E cig folks. Here is the deal. What I want everyone to realize is that FACT!!! E-Cigs are 100 times safer than Regular tobacco cigarettes. has great info. I don’t want to go in the details. But anything that is potentially harmful in the E-CIG the regular CIG ALREADY HAS IT!! so with the E cig.. u just get a bunch of LESS harmful stuff than an e-cig…. NO SMOKE, NO TAR, NO BURNING PAPER… I can go on and on. SO at the end of day… WHat we need to do… is Not worry about big pharma and big Tobacco companies… I would take my Chinese made E cig over a US made cancer STIK… but lets get the manufacturing in the US as well… regulate it… and MOVE on with our lives. -Anderson

    • Mike
      February 10, 2010 at 6:53 pm

      Ya, I need to put my foot in my mouth on this subject. Thanks everyone.

  • Mike
    February 10, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    FYI: If you noticed my comments/replies moving around, that’s because I had to delete them and move them under the proper comments I originally replied to. So far I’ve been using the Wordpress Android app to reply to comments while on the go.

    Unfortunately, it appears the app puts all replies, regardless of the actual comment you reply to, under the very first comment at the top. Everything should be sorted out now.

  • Chris Wells
    February 10, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    So youre saying the FDA is finally more concerned about my health than wooing Pharma and Big Tobacco??? Now thats breaking news!

    Fact is ciggs have 1000’s of known toxins and e ciggs have a couple… if you can even trust the FDA’s “findings”.

    Last thing we want to do is scare away smokers who need a way out if their horrible addictions.

    Here’s another take:

    • Mike
      February 10, 2010 at 1:49 pm

      Being that I’m not a smoker, I haven’t looked as deeply into the subject as a smoker has I’m sure. Not to mention, the FDA isn’t exactly the princess company they claim to be. With that said, a personal agenda by the FDA doesn’t sound too far fetched.

      Thanks for personal account. I’ll definitely need to look deeper.

  • Kate
    February 10, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    They’re the best invention since the wheel. Check out the comments on this article -

    • Mike
      February 10, 2010 at 1:17 pm

      Interesting. Though I don’t see how anyone can say with a straight face that traces of chemicals that make up anti-freeze aren’t bad “in small amounts”…

  • Shan
    February 10, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Well, Mike, I think you’ve learned a valuable lesson today: Don’t post without doing a little more homework than this.

    *Traces* of DEG were found in ONE tobacco-flavored cartridge of one company’s e-cigarettes. (The only 2 companies looked at were the 2 companies suing the FDA for seizing their overseas shipments.) I am 100% certain it was not added intentionally, as the linked article states irresponsibly and idiotically (really, dude, that’s a TERRIBLE article). DEG is a humectant, used in tobacco processing. A smoker would no doubt encounter more DEG in an actual cigarette than in any cartridge. Ethylene glycol is the main component of traditional antifreeze. The less-toxic forms of antifreeze, the pet-safe ones you can buy? Those are made with PROPYLENE glycol — which is indeed the main ingredient in most e-cigarette liquid. It’s also used in various pharmaceuticals, including asthma inhalers, and fog machines used onstage and in firefighter training simulations. Also in nearly every cosmetic/toiletry you can buy.

    I’ve been vaping for, let’s see, 10 months now. That’s about the same time I quit smoking, give or take 3 days. I have much more wind and more stamina and no more crappy sinus clogging in the mornings and no more smoker’s cough/breath/stink/etc. I no longer use nicotine; my carts are filled with propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, and food flavorings. All those are “generally regarded as safe” by the FDA. Not that I would care, because the FDA has been intensely hypocritical throughout this entire kerfuffle, and indeed bends over backward to make Big Pharma’s existence more profitable.

    That study was poorly done. Having given up nicotine, I have difficulty mixing liquids for my mate, who is now giving up smoking and uses a fairly high nic level; if I sample too much, I get dizzy and my heart starts pounding. No “scientist” is going to tell me I’m imagining that. I KNOW when I’ve had too much nicotine, and I can sure as hell get too much from vaping a strong nicotine liquid!

    • Mike
      February 10, 2010 at 5:34 pm

      thanks for the comment. Ill make sure to dig a little deeper next time.

      • Shan
        February 10, 2010 at 10:43 pm

        You’re a good man, despite your name not being Charlie Brown. Update FTW!

        • Mike
          February 10, 2010 at 10:48 pm

          Why thank you kind sir.

          • Shan
            February 11, 2010 at 4:21 am

            We may have to make you an Honorary Vaper after this. (Hey, guys, do we have an induction ceremony for this?)

            Seriously: you wrote, “With that said, the post is still here, in it’s entirety, and won’t be going anywere because I don’t believe in deleting a mistake — regardless of what it is. So now everyone knows I flubbed this one. Oh well, we learn, grow, and move on.”

            That’s some good stuff right there. Honorable, admirable, and endearing. Thanks again.

  • Sheri
    February 10, 2010 at 10:38 am

    Digging deeper, one finds that there truly are some startling discoveries about the e cig and the FDA. First, you mention anti-freeze in cartridges. It is astounding that in testing 19 cartridges, the FDA found a trace amount of DEG in ONE cartridge. Since then, several other non-FDA labs have tested significantly more cartridges, and NO DEG was found in any of them. I find it suspect that the FDA who approved Chantix, a drug that has led to scores of suicides, hundreds of psychotic breakdowns, and many other serious consequences, now claims that e cigs are dangerous. I have watched at least five Chantix commercials today….amazing. How did just one cartridge happen to have a trace of DEG? Perhaps you should talk to some e cig users before claiming them worthless. I have used an e cig for over a year now, and without meaning to either quit or cut back on smoking (I was simply curious)I have gone from a pack a day for over 40 years to 1 cigarette a day. Doesn’t sound useless to me or to the thousands of other people who have done exactly the same. Since the FDA is so cozy with the drug companies (so cozy that it fast-tracked Chantix and has now required a black box warning) and the drug companies make Nicorette gums and patches and other medicinal quit smoking drugs, perhaps it is in the financial interests of the drug companies and their FDA partner to claim e cigs are worthless and dangerous. After all, the average effectiveness of drug company NRT’s is about 1.6% after a year. E cig users have a 40-60% success rate. The e cig business is certainly a threat to the bottom line of Pfizer and possibly the FDA itself.

    • Mike
      February 10, 2010 at 3:52 pm

      As I mentioned above, I wasn’t trying to imply that I’m an avid FDA supporter or anything of that nature. I was merely reporting what I read. I generally find myself in the same boat as you — highly skeptical and critical of the FDA. Since I haven’t read too deeply into e-cigarettes to begin with and having heard numerous “findings and reports” that they’re completely 100% safe, seeing a report such as the one I linked to was a bit eye opening.

      But again, after stepping back and letting it soak in for a bit, it becomes easy to see that it isn’t necessarily as bad as certain groups make them out to be.

  • Joe
    February 10, 2010 at 8:42 am

    I’ve used one for 2 months now. I’ve been a smoker for 20 years. They are really great, the FDA is attacking them due to tax reasons. I would suggest anyone reading this article educate themselves about these devices.

    I can say from my own personal experience that they rule. Since i quit regular cigarettes my lungs have vastly improved, my skin looks so much better, and I don’t stink.

    It’s hard to find a good one. The problem is that the most popular brands aren’t that great. I would look for an american manufacture and especially for the juice quality.

    • Mike
      February 10, 2010 at 3:51 pm

      Well said.

      Btw: congrats on your success.

      • Wayne
        February 10, 2010 at 7:33 pm

        Mike, Have you done any research at all. Or are you just accepting the word of our FDA? Let me ask you this question: We all know that tobacco cigarettes kill over 440,000 Americans per year. Have you read of even “one” person being ill from an e-cigarette? I smoked Marlboro’s for over 44 years. A friend let me try his e-cig one day & I ordered a kit for myself the next day. And I haven’t smoked a tobacco cig for 3 Months & 2 weeks. I’d say they work! And even the unknown is better than sure death from tobacco cigarettes.

        • Mike
          February 10, 2010 at 7:41 pm

          Research…a little. Obviously not enough though as we have seen from the outpouring of comments. I got it now.

          To answer the next question: No, I haven’t read of anyone dying from an e-cigarette.

          As far as accepting the word of the FDA — Hell no! I already know they’re one of the most two-faced companies that are run by drug companies and other lobbyists which are hardly there for the “health of the people”. I saw this article on a few other sites though admittingly didn’t read too deeply into it and drew a few conclusions prematurely. My mistake.

          With that said, the post is still here, in it’s entirety, and won’t be going anywere because I don’t believe in deleting a mistake — regardless of what it is. So now everyone knows I flubbed this one. Oh well, we learn, grow, and move on.

  • Mike
    February 11, 2010 at 9:24 am

    “Smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em” appropriate here…? Weres the next meeting?

  • Mike
    February 11, 2010 at 9:35 am

    FYI: for some reason, comments are getting delayed. One from 4am this morning just posted. Not quite sure what’s going on yet. Just a heads up.

  • madmad3237
    February 12, 2010 at 10:25 am

    East Coast Meet Up info @
    Many of the more knowledgeable vapers will be there. March 13, 2010 just south of DC.

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