Emit Cancer-Causing Chemicals to Which Innocent Bystanders Are Exposed

A new study showing that e-cigarettes [e-cigs] emit two additional cancer-causing chemicals is likely to lead to law suits and to additional bans on the use of such products in public places, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf, who has led the fight to have them regulated, and to protect innocent bystanders from being forced to breathe the hazardous vapors.

Although it is widely claimed and believed that e-cigarettes, unlike conventional tobacco cigarettes, do not create a cancer risk because they rely upon two chemicals found in foods and therefore generally considered safe, the study shows that when food-safe glycol and glycerin are heated in these devices, they give off the carcinogens propylene oxide and glycidol.

Since persons around e-cig users are forced to inhale some of the exhaled vapors, they are being forced to ingest these and other toxic chemicals in this indoor air pollution, just as those around smokers are forced to inhale deadly secondhand tobacco smoke.

Therefore this new study is likely to increase and re-invigorate calls to ban the use of e-cigarettes in public places – i.e., to prohibit their use where the smoking of cigarettes is now banned – as such use has already been banned in many jurisdictions as the result of efforts by Banzhaf and others.

Interestingly, the new study also shows that it is possible to reduce, although not to eliminate, the amount of carcinogenic chemicals given off by e-cigs by improving control over their operating temperatures, by reducing certain deposits on the heating elements, and by other means.

Vape Cigarette E-Cigarettes
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Since manufacturers are required by law to make their products as reasonably safe as possible, and to reduce or eliminate known risks if it is not cost prohibitive to do so, these findings could open the door to law suits – not unlike those brought against cigarette companies – if they fail to take these steps now that they are known to reduce the risk of cancer, says Banzhaf, who has been called “The Law Professor Who Masterminded Litigation Against the Tobacco Industry,” and “a Driving Force Behind the Lawsuits That Have Cost Tobacco Companies Billions of Dollars.”

“While this general rule regarding the legal duty to eliminate known risks applies to all products, it applies with even greater force when the risk is one of contracting a deadly disease like cancer, and also where innocent third parties, in addition to the user, are put at risk,” says Banzhaf.

While some might argue that e-cig users voluntarily assume the risks of cancer and of other deadly health problems like heart attacks and strokes when they use the product, no such argument can be made regarding their family members – including innocent young children who are even more susceptible – as well as bystanders when these products are used in public places, he argues.

In response to arguments that e-cigs should not be regulated – and that their makers and sellers should not be sued – because the products help smokers to quit, Banzhaf notes that the Food and Drug Administration [FDA] and the major public health organizations do not believe that this claimed benefit has been proven, says Banzhaf, who notes studies showing that they can actually increase smoking.