European standard under way for the e-cigarette

European standard under way for the e-cigarette

The electronic cigarette (also referred to as e-cigarette) is used as a tool to quit smoking. It is also used as a substitute for normal cigarettes, which have been proven scientifically to be harmful to health.

Composition and principle

The e-cigarette comes in different types. Which in each case consist of three main components: a battery, a filling containing an e-liquid, and an evaporator (atomizer). On some models, the filling and atomizer are combined in one component. By inhaling through the mouthpiece or pressing a button, the user activates the battery, which heats up the resistance inside the atomizer. The e-liquid in the cartridge then evaporates and is inhaled by the user.

The basis for the e-liquid is propylene glycol and / or vegetable glycerin, which produce a visible smoke-like vapour when they evaporate. Water, flavoring agents, and optionally nicotine are also present in the e-liquid. The range of flavors is enormous: mint, chocolate, coffee, vanilla etc.

Benefits and risks of the e-cigarette

Opinions vary widely on the benefits and risks of the e-cigarette. According to a recommendation issued in 2013 by the Belgian Superior Health Council, more research is needed to identify its effects on health (linked for instance to the presence of toxic substances in low concentrations).

The results of several studies on this subject sometimes contradict each other. Nevertheless, there is consensus that the e-cigarette is less toxic or carcinogenic than normal cigarettes since no combustion products are inhaled when using it.

A recent experiment at the University of Leuven shows that the e-cigarette is a successful alternative for the normal cigarette to cut down on smoking or even quit smoking altogether. The researchers involved in the experiment therefore argue in favour of the approval of e-cigarettes with nicotine for the Belgian market.

So far, in Belgium, this type of e-cigarette is considered a drug and falls under the medicines legislation.

New CEN/TC on e-cigarettes

As the market for electronic cigarettes is growing rapidly, it becomes important to protect the health and safety of consumers. At present, however, there are no European standards for e-cigarettes and e-liquids.

Therefore, in January 2015, the European Standardization Committee (CEN) established a new technical committee, CEN/TC 437 'Electronic cigarettes and e-liquids’. This committee will develop European standards specifying safety requirements and methods of analysis for e-cigarettes and e-liquids.

If you are interested in participating in this new committee, please contact us.