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 FDA Alerts
May 10, 2022

Beware of vaping products with unproven health claims

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Electronic cigarettes—also called e-cigarettes or “vapes”—have become a popular alternative for smokers addicted to nicotine. These devices are electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), which are battery operated. A heating element turns liquid contained within a cartridge in the device into a vapor that the user breathes in and out. In most e-cigarettes, this liquid contains nicotine and sometimes a flavoring agent (e.g., fruit, candy, or mint).

Recently, “wellness” vaping products that contain vitamins and/or essential oils are being sold illegally. These products are being offered with unproven health or wellness claims stating they improve mental clarity or treat tumors or asthma. Some examples of false claims are:

  • “Fight off tumors and alleviate symptoms of chemotherapy.”
  • “It’s been used as an organic asthma remedy, ADHD remedy, and dementia treatment.”
  • “Helps prevent a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia that makes people tired and weak.”
  • “Neroli oil...has long been used as a treatment against anxiety and depression, to calm the mind and soothe away tension.”

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has NOT approved any vaping product to prevent or treat any health condition or disease. These false claims may be unsafe, ineffective, and may prevent or delay you from seeking appropriate medical treatment.

Some vaping products can trigger severe coughing, cause airway tightening, and make speaking and breathing difficult. People with other medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), may be at greater risk of severe complications. The bottom line is, there is no way to know if these “wellness” vaping products contain ingredients that can make symptoms worse or cause permanent damage, such as “popcorn lung” (bronchiolitis obliterans which is a buildup of scar tissue in the lungs).

In addition, studies have found that some vaping products contain cancer-causing chemicals, petroleum, toxic heavy metals, herbicides, and other hazardous chemicals, including diethylene glycol, a chemical found in antifreeze. These ingredients are often hidden on the product label as “proprietary blends.”

Here’s what you can do: Talk to your healthcare provider if you are considering using a vaping product. Avoid any vaping products that claim to contain vitamins or other natural ingredients that promote wellness, as well as products that claim to treat a wide range of illnesses or diseases. Many of these claims are false. Products claiming to be a “miracle cure” or “guaranteed results” are other red flags of unproven health claims. Finally, check government and consumer protection groups for safety alerts, recalls, and other product warnings.

Advice from FDA is a feature brought to you by the FDA. You can find this information and more on FDA’s Consumer Health Information website at: www.ismp.org/ext/889. This website features the latest updates on medicines and products regulated by the FDA. Sign up for a free email subscription at: www.ismp.org/ext/262.

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Beware of vaping products with unproven health claims