Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association

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E-Cigarette Liquid Is Not Highly Toxic

E-Cigarette Liquid Is Not Highly Toxic - It’s Less Dangerous Than Washing Up Liquid

11, Jul, 2014

Basic mathematical errors by officials across the EU have resulted in e-cigarette liquid being wrongly categorised as a highly dangerous substance like strychnine and formaldehyde when most e-liquid is in a lower hazard category than washing-up liquid.

A report by the toxicology consultancy bibra concluded that the concentrations of nicotine in the vast majority of e-liquid (which is below 25mg/ml or 2.5%) do not require any type of hazard warning for acute oral and dermal toxicity.  The report stated that even stronger concentrations of nicotine only merit being classed in the lowest official hazard level of CLP Category 4.  This is a category that also contains washing-up liquid.

Officials around Europe have been erroneously placing e-cigarette liquid in Category 2 - alongside strychnine - or in Category 3 - alongside formaldehyde.

The bibra findings have been validated by the world’s top ranked nicotine scientist Professor Riccardo Polosa, eminent toxicologist, Professor Bernd Mayer and tobacco scientist, Dr Jacque Le Houezec.

The errors on e-liquid were discovered months after Brussels officials were accused by another group of scientific researchers of also grossly exaggerating the amount of nicotine inhaled through e-cigarettes.  Their research found that the maximum strength e-cigarettes to be permitted under EU legislation (20 mg/ml, or 2%) delivered only one-third of the nicotine produced by tobacco cigarettes.

“Well over 29 million Europeans are estimated to have used e-cigarettes so politicians need to get their officials to give correct information” said Katherine Devlin of ECITA which commissioned the research.

An estimate in earlier scientific literature calculates that more than 500 mg of nicotine would be needed to kill a person.  That is the equivalent of drinking more than two typical 10 ml e-liquid bottles containing a strong 2.5% concentration.  Since nicotine is an emetic it would be very difficult to consume even one bottle without vomiting.

In the ten years since e-cigarettes arrived in Europe tobacco smoking has claimed the lives of 7 million EU citizens whereas e-cigarette vaping has killed no-one.  The scientific research showing that e-cigarettes are much less hazardous than previously feared may help to explain the disparity.

“The reckless scaremongering that has seen the risks of e-cigarettes equated with those from cigarettes has created two massive problems for public health. The first is that millions of smokers have been put off switching to e-cigarettes and so have remained exposed to the massive risks of smoking.  The second is that the scaremongering has resulted in an EU Tobacco Products Directive that in 2016 will ban all current e-cigarette products unless they undergo expensive quasi-medicinal testing.  That will vastly reduce product choice, increase prices and push people back to smoking,”  said Devlin.

“On the plus side we are seeing within governments a radical re-evaluation of e-cigarettes as scientific evidence demonstrates that not only are e-cigarettes vastly safer than tobacco but are also less addictive and are leading to dramatic falls in smoking across all age groups.  Politicians are recognising that policy should be based on evidence and not on ideology or prejudice against smokers,” said Devlin.

“The TPD’s switch off day for e-cigarettes is a long-fuse bomb which will explode in the middle of the new European Parliament’s term.  Unless the TPD is amended tens of millions of European vapers will be outraged when their vastly safer alternatives to smoking are outlawed by legislation which was in part written by the pharmaceutical industry,” said Devlin.

Economic modeling conducted earlier this year forecast that one part of the planned EU restrictions, the ban on stronger nicotine e-cigarettes used by the most highly dependent ex smokers, could cost 105,000 lives every year.

The trade body ECITA believes that remaining risks from e-liquid can be mitigated by child proof caps and common  sense.  It is also insisting that its members use clear product labeling.

The UK Trading Standards Joint Lead Officer for Product Safety, Mark Gardiner said that to further minimise risk it “is entirely appropriate for the recognised industry body, ECITA, to decide on appropriate measures to ensure compliance, since they are the experts in this field.”

•    Katherine Devlin, ECITA,  01792 324438
•    Ian Gregory, Centaurus Communications, 07930 352333
•    Ashleigh Ace, Bibra, 020 8619 0770


•    Toxicologists report on classification of nicotine formulations Bibra Report of July 2014
•    Addictiveness of cigarettes is increased by other compounds like acetaldehyde Fagestrom paper, June 2014
•    Sharp fall in teenage smoking in France (down 45%) and USA (down 19%) French and USA Government Data
•    Scientists explain EU errors in calculating nicotine rules  Scientists letter to EU Commission, January 2014
•    In 2012 there were already 29 million Europeans who had used an e-cigarette Harvard University, June 2014
•    Economists forecast 105,000 people every year will die because of EU ban on higher nicotine e-cigarettes London Economics Report, January 2014
Other Material on E-Cigarette Safety

•    The toxicity of vapour in e-cigarettes is “one thousandth of that in cigarette smoke” NHS Website
•    “There is no evidence that vaping produces inhalable exposures to contaminants of the aerosol that would warrant health concerns  Drexel University Study, January 2014
•    “The chemicals that make cigarettes dangerous are either absent in electronic cigarettes or present only in trace concentrations” Lancet, July 2013
•    “The risk is negligible, and compared with smoking there is no contest” Professor Robert West, University College London, July 2013
•    “If all the smokers in Britain stopped smoking cigarettes and started smoking e-cigarettes we would save 5 million deaths” Professor John Britton, Royal College of Physicians, February 2013
•    “How much nicotine kills a human? Tracing back the generally accepted lethal dose to dubious self-experiments in the nineteenth century”  Professor Bernd Mayer