Thousands of people want to quit smoking cigarettes, but come up short on breaking the habit. Then along came the e-cigarette revolution. Suddenly, smokers discovered a whole new way to get their nicotine fix. Since hitting the market, the e-cigarette industry has exploded. In fact, a new survey from the UC San Diego found the number of e-cigarette brands and available flavors is growing at an astonishing rate.
According to the study, over 450 e-cigarette brands are now available online, while flavored nicotine liquid, known as e-juice, can be purchased in a mindboggling 7,700 flavors. With choices like Cinnamon Bun, Banana Pudding, Eco-Cooler, and Mountain Dew Blast, smoking an e-cigarette almost sounds like a delicious experience.
Data from the UC San Diego study discovered an average of 10 new e-cigarette brands and 242 new flavors of e-juice are introduced every month. In January 2014, there were 466 brands (each with a unique website) and 7,764 different flavors. In just 17 months, there was a net increase of 10.5 brands and 242 new flavors per month. With so many brands and flavors emerging, experts worry the booming industry may become an increased threat to public health.
A Safer Alternative?
Though regular cigarettes are known to contain more than 7,000 unhealthy chemicals, e-cigarettes are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. With no official regulation or oversight, an accurate list of the chemicals used to make flavored e-juice is not available. Despite the unknown ingredients, customers can’t seem to get enough of these new flavored cigarette alternatives.
The e-cigarette was invented by Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik in 2003. It was introduced to the Chinese market the following year and made its way to the United States shortly thereafter. The e-juice is heated by an internal battery powered coil housed within the device. After inhaling, smokers exhale a mixture of e-juice and water vapor. Users love the fact that there’s no smoke, no tar, no ash, and no foul smell.
Future Regulations are Looming
As the e-cig industry has grown in popularity, more and more experts have voiced concerns about the safety of the products. One of the biggest concerns is that the vapor created by e-cigs contains dangerous chemicals.
The FDA recently proposed a set of specific rules to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. They also want to see e-cigarette companies be made to list e-juice ingredients, along with the specific nicotine strength. The regulations could be a welcome safety precaution, as the e-cigarette market is projected to reach $2 billion this year.