CEH Initiates Legal Action on Vaping Dangers

Oakland, CA-The nonprofit health watchdog Center for Environmental Health (CEH) today is initiating legal action against 19 companies that sell e-cigarettes and/or e-liquids without consumer warnings, as is required under California law. E-cigarettes are marketed as a harmless “vaping” alternative to tobacco and to regulated smoking-cessation products, but the CEH action notes that unregulated vaping products expose users to nicotine, a chemical known to pose serious reproductive health hazards, and thus must carry warnings under the state’s Prop 65 consumer protection law. CEH is also concerned about other chemical health threats from vaping, including from formaldehyde and other chemicals known to cause cancer.

Last week, a report from California’s health department declared e-cigarettes a public health threat. “The e-cigarette market is a $2 billion uncontrolled experiment on our childrens’ and families’ health,” said Michael Green, Executive Director of CEH. “Given the known health hazards from nicotine and the many potential health problems from these untested products, consumers have a right to know when it’s not safe to vape.”

While e-cigarette companies claim that their products are a safe alternative to tobacco, the nicotine delivered by vaping can pose serious health threats. Nicotine is known to cause serious reproductive health harm: also, exposure during adolescence can harm brain development (1), and a 2012 study linked nicotine to heart disease (2). Numerous studies have found inaccurate labeling of nicotine levels from e-cigarettes and e-liquids, with widely varying levels of inhaled nicotine and other chemicals from the products (3), since they are produced without any regulatory standards.

Health problems from e-cigarettes are not solely related to nicotine, but may also be caused by other ingredients used in and/or chemicals produced by vaping products. For example, recent findings reported in the New England Journal of Medicine suggested that high levels of formaldehyde, a chemical known to cause cancer, could be inhaled from vaping at high temperatures. There is also little data on the safety of heated, inhaled propylene glycol, the main base ingredient used in most e-liquids, but the chemical is known to convert to a cancer-causing substance, propylene oxide, when heated (4). One recent study raised concerns about cell toxicity from e-cigarette flavoring ingredients, noting particular concerns for young people’s lungs and for pregnant women who vape or are exposed to second-hand vaping. (5) A review last year by an FDA researcher found that solvents in e-cigarette liquids could convert to cancer-causing carboxyls when heated. (6)

A peer-reviewed study of e-cigarette marketing showed companies make scientifically unsubstantiated health and smoking cessation claims, and often target young users. (7) Teen use of e-cigarettes is skyrocketing: among 8th and 10th graders, twice as many say they use e-cigarettes as compared to those who smoke traditional cigarettes, with 17% of high school seniors nationally saying they smoke e-cigarettes. The products also pose threats to younger children: in California, poison control calls relating to e-cigarettes increased by more than 12 times, from just 19 in 2012 to 243 last year, with 60% of the calls involving children ages 5 and under. (8)

According to the marketing study, 76% of vaping company websites claim that their products do not produce second-hand smoke. But a recent health study showed that nicotine-absorption levels of non-smokers who live with e-cigarette smokers are comparable to those who live with traditional cigarette smokers. (9) Numerous other studies have found that first and second-hand smoke from vaping may include chemicals such as acetaldehyde, formaldehyde, and toluene, as well as heavy metals like cadmium and lead – all of which are listed by California as known to cause cancer and/or reproductive health harm. (10) The California Department of Public Health noted that at least ten chemicals on the state’s Prop 65 list have been identified in vaping smoke. (11)

In bringing legal action, CEH expects to pressure the e-cigarette industry to conform to legal requirements for labeling and create mandatory product safety standards. CEH also aims to pressure the companies to stop marketing practices that target children and teens. A previous CEH lawsuit ended illegal tobacco advertising near California schools and required companies to donate 500 “billboard months” of advertising space to carry anti-smoking messages targeted at young people. (12)

The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) is the leading national nonprofit committed to ending health threats from toxic chemicals in our air, water, food and in products we use every day. CEH protects children and families from harmful chemicals by working with communities, consumers, workers, and government to demand and support safer business practices. We also work with major industries and leaders in green business to promote healthier alternatives to toxic products and practices.

(1) See http://www.cdph.ca.gov/Pages/NR15-12.aspx

(2) http://www.biophysics.org/Portals/1/PDFs/Press%20Room/2012/BPS2012_Cigarettes%20for%20web.pdf

(3) see, eg, http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/23/suppl_2/ii36.full and http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/129/19/1972.full

(4) http://gizmodo.com/why-e-cigarettes-might-not-be-as-safe-as-you-think-1589485508

(5) http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/129/19/1972.full

(6) http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/23/suppl_2/ii36.full

(7) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24650842

(8) http://www.cdph.ca.gov/Pages/NR15-12.aspx

(9) http://tobacco.ucsf.edu/nonsmokers-around-e-cigs-absorb-nicotine-levels-similar-passive-cigarette-smokers-smoke-free-should-also-be-ecig-free

(10) Cited in http://gizmodo.com/why-e-cigarettes-might-not-be-as-safe-as-you-think-1589485508

(11) http://www.cdph.ca.gov/Pages/NR15-12.aspx

(12) http://www.ceh.org/news-events/press-coverage/content/2-firms-stamp-out-lawsuit-with-free-anti-smoking-billboards/

List of companies


  1. Ballistic Vape Inc.                                   Ballistic Vape TruNic USA Liquid Nicotine in Praline Dream
  2. Steam Distribution                                 Ballistic Vape TruNic USA Liquid Nicotine in Praline Dream
  3. Beard Vape Co                                          Beard Vape Co.Juice No. 5
  4. Bodyrock Products                                 Hard Cocktails E-Liquid in Angel’s Share
  5. The Daily Vapes                                       The Daily Vapes Juice in Bake Sales
  6. Exquisite E Liquid                                  Exquisite E-Liquid in Nature’s Harvest
  7. Five Pawns                                                 Signature Vapor Liquid Mixology Edition in Perpetual Check
  8. Joyetech/Shenzhen Joyetech             Joyetech Cigar E-Liquid
  9. Limitless Trading Co                             Drip E-Liquid in Guava Nectar
  10. Nicopure Labs                                          EVO E-Liquid Evolved in Maraschino Tobacco
  11. Tenacious 7 Vapor                                  Tenacious 7 E-Juice in Peach Fuzz
  12. Throttle Vapor                                         Throttle Vapor E-Juice in Slow Ride
  13. USVC, Inc.                                                 Organic Premium Vape Juice in Nutty Chocolate
  14. The Vape Kitchen                                   Epicurean E-Liquid in Thai Mango Sticky Rice
  15. Vaporall                                                     E-Liquid in Lusty Lychee

E-cigarettes and/or vaping kits

  1. PHD Marketing                                      Xhale X MC Vapor Pen in Green
  2. S & E Distributor                                   Tsunami Disposable E-Cigarette
  3. Smoke Tokes                                           Green Man CE Series Vaporizer
  4. Vapor Exotica                                         V-Exotica Vapor Pen