Most disturbing to the FDA was the fact that at least five electronic cigarette makers were claiming that use of their products would help users quit smoking regular cigarettes. Under the Food Drug and Cosmetics Act, companies cannot claim that their products are effective in treating diseases, like nicotine addiction, unless those claims have been proven. "Yet all five companies claim without FDA review of relevant evidence that the products help users quit smoking cigarettes," stated the FDA.
Electronic cigarettes are products designed to deliver nicotine or other substances to the user in the form of a vapor. Typically, they are composed of a rechargeable, battery-operated heating element, a replaceable cartridge that may contain nicotine or other chemicals, and an atomizer that, when heated, converts the contents of the cartridge into a vapor. This vapor can then be inhaled by the user.
Typical claims of the "curative" powers of electronic cigarettes cited by the FDA included, "If you've tried the patch, gum and other methods that haven't worked for you, try the electronic cigarette," and "E-cigarettes Reducing 400,000 American Deaths per year to 10,000."
The FDA also found that some of the manufacturers were including other drugs in their electronic cigarettes without FDA approval. The drugs included tadalafil, an erectile dysfunction drug, and rimonabant, a weight loss drug not approved for use in the United States.
As early as July 2009, the FDA announced that it had determined that electronic cigarettes contained cancer-causing toxic chemicals such as diethylene glycol, an ingredient used in antifreeze.