“Researchers found carcinogens such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde in vapor produced by several types of e-cigarette liquid,” the report said. “Formaldehyde — a substance found in building materials and embalming fluids — was present at levels 10 times those found in the smoke from regular cigarettes,” AFP writes.
According to Japanese media reports, the Japanese health ministry requested the study, which was submitted on Thursday by the country’s National Institute of Public Health. Electronic cigarettes in Japan are not sold in shops, but are unregulated and readily available over the internet.
E-cigarettes use battery-powered cartridges to heat a liquid that contains nicotine into a vapor, which is then inhaled by the smoker. Since their invention in 2003 by a Chinese pharmacist in Beijing, their use has boomed in recent years into a market estimated to be worth $3 billion.
“In a nutshell, the WHO report shows that e-cigarettes and similar devices pose threats to public health," said WHO representative Douglas Bettcher at a press conference, as reported by Reuters following the event in August.
The e-cigarette market has also attracted the attention of big tobacco companies such as Philip Morris and Camels manufacturer Reynolds American, which have launched their own electronic cigarettes. Given current trends, analysts at Wells Fargo expect the market to be worth $10 billion by 2017, while Bloomberg Industries project sales will exceed those of traditional cigarettes by 2047.