Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Help stop misleading e-cigarette tests on animals

Posted: 21 November 2019. Updated: 21 November 2019


This Great American Smokeout, which takes place on November 21, join Animal Defenders International (ADI) in calling for an end to misleading e-cigarette tests that cause suffering and death to countless animals.

E-cigarette experiments involve forcing animals, some of whom are pregnant, to inhale vapor daily for weeks and sometimes over months. Confined in boxes or restrained in tubes, there is no escape. After the tests, the animals are killed, and their tissues analyzed.

The number of animals being used in e-cigarette testing globally is unknown, but most studies to date have been undertaken here in the US, and in some cases alongside nonanimal studies.

How you can help


  • IN THE US: Urge your representatives to support only human-relevant research methods for testing the effects of e-cigarettes. You can use the information provided on this page.
  • IN THE UK: Contact your MP and urge them to call on the government not to allow the use of animals for such tests. These are not currently undertaken but could occur in future.
  • WHEREVER YOU LIVE: Help ADI continue to support and promote advanced methods of non-animal research.

E-cigarettes are predominantly used among those trying to quit smoking but also young people, who may go on to become smokers. Around 3-9% of the US population are current e-cigarette users compared to around 15% who are smokers. From 2011 to 2015, e-cigarette use rose from 1.5% to 16.0% for high school students and from 0.6% to 5.3% for middle school students.

The FDA announced last year that it had become so concerned with the “epidemic of e-cigarette use among teenagers” that it launched the largest ever coordinated initiative against violative sales - aimed at retail and online sales of e-cigarettes to minors - in its history.


Each year, hundreds of e-cigarette products are launched, the market flooded with a staggering variety of flavors. The global market – now dominated by the tobacco industry – is estimated to be worth $19.3 billion.

Although thought to be “safer” than traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes cannot be considered safe. Indeed, in the US, there have been 2,172 reported lung injury cases and 42 deaths associated with e-cigarette products containing vitamin E acetate, which may be used to thicken liquids containing THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis.

With limited information on the effects of e-cigarette ingredients – which can include formaldehyde and lead – and long-term use on human health unknown, further research is understandably being demanded. As animal tests are known to be misleading ADI is calling on the US government to advocate only human-relevant research methods.

Worldwide, 27 countries have banned the use of e-cigarettes, and nine others have banned nicotine-based products. Although at lower levels, nonsmokers passively absorb e-cigarette vapor in the same way as cigarette smoke.

Advanced non-animal methods such as the sophisticated lung-on-a-chip model, 3D human gum tissue, and puffing machines have all been used to study human tissue exposure to e-cigarettes. A team at Aston University in the UK has also developed its own unique breathing machine to test the toxicity of e-cigarettes, the researchers’ aim being to replace regulatory animal testing. To test the machine, part of the development of an animal free airways model has been funded by the Lord Dowding Fund, a department of Animal Defenders International Foundation.

Due to species differences, animal models are an unreliable way of testing the safety of e-cigarettes in humans. For example, mice cannot breathe through their mouths and the physiology of rodents’ lungs is different to ours. Mice are also known to be more sensitive to nicotine than people. The World Health Organization has questioned the relevance of animal studies to humans. Despite this, some research companies are suggesting more animal tests be carried out.

E-cigarettes have been regulated as tobacco products since August, requiring disclosure of harmful or potentially harmful constituents. Under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines, animal studies do not legally have to be carried out.

© Animal Defenders International 2020