Electronic cigarettes are becoming big business. Users say the devices have helped them stop smoking traditional cigarettes and that “vaping” is safer than smoking tobacco.

But, the tiny devices haven’t been on the market long enough to have any long term health studies conducted on the very vapor they send straight into the lungs of its users.

So, the ABC15 Investigators wanted to take a closer look at the contents of this vapor. We enlisted the help of a lab to test the vapor you’re breathing in each time you use an e cigarette.


Travis Saul started using electronic cigarettes a year ago. Now, he says, “Vaping is a way of life.”

He said he turned to e cigarettes so he could quit smoking traditional ones. “If you want to quick smoking, vaping will work,” he said.

The father of two wanted to kick his 18 year old habit for his family. “I’d have to go outside to smoke,” he said.

He didn’t want his kids to be around him while he was smoking.

” is just as bad as the smoking,” he said.

Now, Saul owns his own company selling electronic cigarettes in stores and online. He says they are completely safe.


Dr. Stanton Glantz is a professor at the University of California at San Francisco and one of the leading researchers on e cigarettes.

He believes calling vaping’ safe is a lot of smoke and mirrors.

“If you are around somebody who is using e cigarettes, you are breathing in ultra fine particles and you are breathing in nicotine,” he said.

You can buy e cigarettes without nicotine in them, but most of them contain the addictive chemical.

“It heats up a mixture of nicotine, proplynegycal and other chemicals, and that heated mixture becomes an aerosol, which is inhaled deeply into your lungs to deliver the addictive drug nicotine,” Glantz said.

Current research shows there is detectable levels of nicotine in non smokers who hang around people using e cigarettes.


“I would say e cigarettes are the cigarettes of the 21 st century,” according to scientist Dr. Prue Talbot. She and her team at the University of California Riverside are among the first in the country to analyze the vapor in e cigarettes.

The ABC15 Investigators had her team test two brands of e cigarettes using a smoking machine and a specialized microscope.

The first test was for Smoking Everywhere Platinum. It showed metals.

“There is quite a bit of tin. Most of this material is composed of tin,” said Dr. Talbot. “There is also some oxygen, some copper and some nickel.”

Smoking Everywhere Platinum had so much metal in the vapor that it created pellets.

“I think the fact there is significant amount of tin in these pellets is important. This means the people using this product are going to be inhaling the tin,” said Dr. Talbot.

The doctor continue to say that inhaling tin directly or even second hand can be dangerous.

“Nanoparticles in general can be toxic,” she said. “In the case of e cigarettes, the nanoparticles would tend to go deeper into the respiratory system.”

“These particles are so very small they go from your lungs straight into your blood stream, and carry the toxic chemicals into your blood, and then appear in various organs,” said Dr. Glantz.

The research team has tested many brands of e cigarettes, and each one had a different result. But, keep in mind, each brand is manufactured differently.

For example, the second brand we had the lab test, Mistic, had no tin in the vapor. But, the lab found concentrations of copper.

Supporters say e cigarettes are only 10 to 20 percent as polluting as tobacco cigarettes. But Dr. Glantz said that’s still not good. “On an absolute whole, it’s still a bad thing,” she said.

Both Smoking Everywhere and Mistic are made in China. We contacted both companies, but we have not received a response.


There is currently no federal regulation of the products even though they use nicotine. However, Arizona has made it illegal to sell them to minors.

We asked the Food and Drug Administration about any future plans for possible regulation.

“Electronic cigarettes are battery operated products that turn nicotine, which is highly addictive, and/or other chemicals into a vapor that is inhaled by the user. The FDA regulates electronic cigarettes that are marketed for therapeutic purposes as drugs or devices. The FDA intends to propose a regulation that would extend the agency’s ‘tobacco product’ authorities which currently only apply to cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll your own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco to other categories of tobacco products that meet the statutory definition of ‘tobacco product.’ Further research is needed to assess the potential public health benefits and risks of electronic cigarettes and other novel tobacco products,” the agency said in a statement.

Even though FDA only currently regulates electronic cigarettes if they make a therapeutic claim, consumers may submit

“light” cigarettes and cancer risk – national cancer institute

Chicago e-cigarette regulations stall – chicago tribune

  1. What is a so called light cigarette?

    Tobacco manufacturers have been redesigning cigarettes since the 1950s. Certain redesigned cigarettes with the following features were marketed as light cigarettes

    • Cellulose acetate filters (to trap tar).
    • Highly porous cigarette paper (to allow toxic chemicals to escape).
    • Ventilation holes in the filter tip (to dilute smoke with air).
    • Different blends of tobacco.

    When analyzed by a smoking machine, the smoke from a so called light cigarette has a lower yield of tar than the smoke from a regular cigarette. However, a machine cannot predict how much tar a smoker inhales. Also, studies have shown that changes in cigarette design have not lowered the risk of disease caused by cigarettes (1).

    On June 22, 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which granted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco products. One provision of the new law bans tobacco manufacturers from using the terms light, low, and mild in product labeling and advertisements. This provision went into effect on June 22, 2010. However, some tobacco manufacturers are using color coded packaging (such as gold or silver packaging) on previously marketed products and selling them to consumers who may continue to believe that these cigarettes are not as harmful as other cigarettes (2 4).

  2. Are light cigarettes less hazardous than regular cigarettes?

    No. Many smokers chose so called low tar, mild, light, or ultralight cigarettes because they thought these cigarettes would expose them to less tar and would be less harmful to their health than regular or full flavor cigarettes. However, light cigarettes are no safer than regular cigarettes. Tar exposure from a light cigarette can be just as high as that from a regular cigarette if the smoker takes long, deep, or frequent puffs. The bottom line is that light cigarettes do not reduce the health risks of smoking.

    Moreover, there is no such thing as a safe cigarette. The only guaranteed way to reduce the risk to your health, as well as the risk to others, is to stop smoking completely.

    Because all tobacco products are harmful and cause cancer, the use of these products is strongly discouraged. There is no safe level of tobacco use. People who use any type of tobacco product should quit. For help with quitting, refer to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) fact sheet Where To Get Help When You Decide To Quit Smoking, which is available at on the Internet.

  3. Do light cigarettes cause cancer?

    Yes. People who smoke any kind of cigarette are at much greater risk of lung cancer than people who do not smoke (5). Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body and diminishes a person s overall health.

    People who switched to light cigarettes from regular cigarettes are likely to have inhaled the same amount of toxic chemicals, and they remain at high risk of developing smoking related cancers and other disease (1). Smoking causes cancers of the lung, esophagus, larynx (voice box), mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach, and cervix, as well as acute myeloid leukemia (6).

    Regardless of their age, smokers can substantially reduce their risk of disease, including cancer, by quitting.

  4. What were the tar yield ratings used by the tobacco industry for light cigarettes?

    Although no Federal agency formally defined the range of tar yield for light or ultralight cigarettes, the tobacco industry used the ranges shown in the table below (5, 7).

    Industry Terms on PackagesMachine measured Tar Yield (in milligrams)Ultralight or Ultralow tarUsually 7 or lessLight or Low tarUsually 8 14Full flavor or RegularUsually 15 or more

    These ratings were not an accurate indicator of how much tar a smoker might have been exposed to, because people do not smoke cigarettes the same way the machines do and no two people smoke the same way.

    Ultralight and light cigarettes are no safer than full flavor cigarettes. There is no such thing as a safe cigarette (1).

  5. Are machine measured tar yields misleading?

    Yes. The ratings cannot be used to predict how much tar a smoker will actually get because the way the machine smokes a cigarette is not the way a person smokes a cigarette. A rating of 7 milligrams does not mean that you will get only 7 milligrams of tar. You can get just as much tar from a light cigarette as from a full flavor cigarette. It all depends on how you smoke. Taking deeper, longer, and more frequent puffs will lead to greater tar exposure. Also, a smoker s lips or fingers may block the air ventilation holes in the filter, leading to greater tar exposure (7).

  6. Why would someone smoking a light cigarette take bigger puffs than with a regular cigarette?

    Cigarette features that reduce the yield of machine measured tar also reduce the yield of nicotine. Because smokers crave nicotine, they may inhale more deeply take larger, more rapid, or more frequent puffs or smoke extra cigarettes each day to get enough nicotine to satisfy their craving. As a result, smokers end up inhaling more tar, nicotine, and other harmful chemicals than the machine based numbers suggest (1).

    Tobacco industry documents show that companies were aware that smokers of light cigarettes compensated by taking bigger puffs. Industry documents also show that the companies were aware of the difference between machine measured yields of tar and nicotine and what the smoker actually inhaled (8).

  7. How can I get help to quit smoking?

    There are many groups that can help smokers quit

    • Go online to ( ), a Web site created by NCI s Tobacco Control Research Branch, and use the Step by Step Quit Guide.
    • Call NCI s Smoking Quitline at 1 877 44U QUIT (1 877 448 7848) for individualized counseling, printed information, and referrals to other sources.
    • Refer to the NCI fact sheet Where To Get Help When You Decide To Quit Smoking, which is available at on the Internet.