Electronic or e-cigarettes, that vapourize nicotine, are being increasingly used all over the world even though information about their effects is very sketchy.
Researchers from University of California, Riverside, US, conclude that e-cigarettes are potentially harmful and have suggested their removal from the market until their safety is established.
They evaluated five e-cigarette brands and found design flaws, lack of adequate labelling, and several concerns about quality control and health issues, reports the journal Tobacco Control.
Unlike conventional cigarettes, which burn tobacco, e-cigarettes vapourize nicotine, along with other compounds present in the cartridge, in the form of aerosol created by heating, but do not produce the thousands of chemicals and toxicants created by tobacco combustion, according to a California statement.
Nothing is known, however, about the chemicals present in the aerosolized vapours emanating from e-cigarettes.
"As a result, some people believe that e-cigarettes are a safe substitute for conventional cigarettes," said Prue Talbot, professor of cell biology and neuroscience and director at the University of California Riverside's Stem Cell Centre, whose lab led the research.
"However, there are virtually no scientific studies on e-cigarettes and their safety. Our study - one of the first studies to evaluate e-cigarettes - shows that this product has many flaws, which could cause serious public health problems in the future if the flaws go uncorrected."
Batteries, atomizers, cartridges, cartridge wrappers, packs and instruction manuals lack important information regarding e-cigarette content, use and essential warnings. E-cigarette cartridges leak, which could expose nicotine, an addictive and dangerous chemical, to children, adults, pets and the environment.
Currently, there are no methods for proper disposal of e-cigarettes products and accessories, including cartridges, which could result in nicotine contamination from discarded cartridges entering water sources and soil, and adversely impacting the environment.