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Lawsuit charges e-cigarettes contain cancer-causing chemicals

Companies fail to warn of the chemicals as required by California law, suit alleges

A non-profit group has filed lawsuits against e-cigarette manufacturers, claiming they failed to warn consumers about two cancer-causing chemicals and the health effects of nicotine.

The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) said it purchased e-cigarettes, e-liquids, and other vaping products from major retailers including RiteAid and 7-Eleven between February and October 2015 and found that 90% contained formaldehyde or acetaldehyde or both.

A test on one e-cigarette found the level of formaldehyde was more than 470 times higher than the California safety standard.

Testing for formaldehyde and acetaldehyde was conducted by an independent lab accredited by the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation. The two chemicals are known to cause cancer and are also linked to genetic damage, birth defects, and reduced fertility, the lawsuits argue. Under California’s Prop 65 consumer protection law, companies must warn consumers when their products expose users to chemicals that can cause cancer and/or birth defects.

Those named in the lawsuits include RJ Reynolds (Vuse brand), Fontem/Imperial Tobacco (blu brand), and NJOY.

In all, the nonprofit has launched legal actions against more than 60 companies for failing to warn consumers about exposure from e-cigarettes to nicotine and/or one or both of the two cancer-causing chemicals, formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, as required by California law.

Teen usage growing

The organization charged that 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 tobacco industry is banned from targeting teens in cigarette ads, but they and the rest of the e-cigarette industry use all of the banned tactics in marketing e-cigarettes,” said Michael Green, Executive Director of CEH. “Parents should know that vaping presents real risks to young people. It’s long past time for this industry to end its predatory and deceptive marketing.”

In February, CEH sued 19 e-cigarette companies for failing to warn consumers about the reproductive health threats from nicotine in their products. In one settlement reached in those cases, the e-cigarette company Sapphire Vapor agreed to legally binding restrictions on sales and marketing to teens and prohibited the use of unverified health claims.

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