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Are Electronic Cigarettes Safe?

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Electronic Cigarettes

As a child of the 90’s, I have not even been alive during a time when cigarettes were promoted as safe. I remember seeing occasional cigarette ads but they always had the Surgeon General’s warning plastered over them; so from a young age I learned that smoking cigarettes is dangerous and unhealthy. It’s hard to imagine that there once was a time when cigarettes were considered safe and doctors were advertised recommending certain cigarette brands. I didn’t believe it when I heard it so I did some searching and found this old Camel commercial – which advertises Camel as “the cigarette preferred by doctors.”

Luckily doctors have come around and no longer promote dangerous cigarettes like they once did. However, there is a new alternative to common cigarettes that’s becoming more and more popular–Electronic Cigarettes.

What Are They?

Electronic cigarettes (commonly known as E-cigarettes) were introduced to the United States in 2007. E-cigarettes don’t actually contain tobacco-they use liquid nicotine which turns into a vapor that smokers can inhale and exhale. The thought is that because there is no tobacco a smoker will be able to get their nicotine fix and won’t breathe in as much junk as a normal cigarette. Supporters of e-cigarettes say they are safer than regular cigarettes.

Craig Youngblood, president of InLife, an e-cigarette company says:

They are electronic, alternative smoking devices that simulate the sensation of smoking. They do not expose the user, or others close by, to harmful levels of cancer-causing agents and other dangerous chemicals normally associated with traditional tobacco products.

Sounds good, right? However, Norman Edelman, MD and chief medical officer of the American Lung Association says:

They are nicotine delivery devices intended to be used like a cigarette. What happens to someone who stops inhaling the tars of cigarettes and inhales only nicotine? We don’t know.

While electronic cigarettes do not contain many of the chemicals that regular cigarettes contain, there have been no long-term studies on the effects of inhaling vaporized nicotine. I am not a medical professional, but I can’t imagine that inhaling nicotine (or any other substance for that matter) can be considered “healthy.” E-cigarettes are also not subject to U.S. tobacco laws and can be purchased without proof of age, especially online. This could potentially lead to hundreds of teenagers developing serious nicotine addictions.

So, how is an e-cigarette made? Let’s take a look at the make-up of one. e cig

 

It definitely is an interesting gadget. A user inhales through the mouthpiece which triggers a sensor on a battery-powered heater. The heater vaporizes the liquid nicotine and the user gets a puff of hot gas that feels quite similar to tobacco smoke and the user exhales the same way as a normal cigarette. Like I said, an interesting gadget–but does it serve a purpose?

An Alternative for Quitting

The New Year is always a popular time for quitting smoking. I talked about the reasons why you should quit smoking  in a previous post but didn’t go into great detail about cigarette addiction or how the e-cigarette is being marketed as a smoking cessation product. Some smokers are choosing to use e-cigarettes instead of tobacco cigarettes because they assume that they’re safer. It’s an interesting theory–if nicotine patches are meant to give you doses of nicotine to help fight the cravings, could e-cigarettes serve a similar purpose? Some studies are suggesting that they might be a good tool to use when quitting.

However, those same studies are also citing that long-term use of e-cigarettes is a healthy alternative to tobacco cigarettes. While they may be an okay alternative for smoking cessation, they are NOT a good long-term replacement for regular cigarettes. The bottom line is that you’re still inhaling nicotine which will continue to fuel your addiction.

A Price to Pay

As I mentioned kid and teens are able to buy electronic cigarettes. E-cigarette use has more than doubled among U.S. middle and high school students too. Kids aren’t stupid–they are able to easily get their hands on these nasty cigarettes and can start smoking at an even younger age. Cigarette companies claim they don’t market to kids (just like junk food companies don’t) but they sell e-cigarettes in cherry, strawberry, vanilla and other appealing flavors. There is also little to no regulation on these cigarette ads so electronic cigarette companies are spending millions promoting these products. E-cigarettes are also expensive but if a person is buying them to replace regular cigarettes then I’m guessing cost isn’t an issue. If a person is spending $50 a week on cigarettes, what’s $100 on a cigarette you can reuse?

The bottom line is that electronic cigarettes are not a safe choice. They can lead to costly addictions which can end up negatively impacting a person’s health. Electronic cigarette use has also not been studied enough. We don’t know enough about the long-term effects–maybe they’ll end up being even more harmful than regular cigarettes, who knows? More research needs to be done and more restrictions need to be put into place. There’s no reason teenage kids should have access to electronic cigarettes. The same, tough restrictions that are in place for regular cigarettes should be in place for electronic ones as well.

So, to answer the question that’s the title of this post, are electronic cigarettes safe? In my opinion, the answer is no. The best thing you can do is just not smoke at all.

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37 Responses to Are Electronic Cigarettes Safe?

  1. Aaron January 1, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

    While I agree with your postulation that the ideal decision for anyone to make would be to avoid any form of cigarettes or nicotine it is like any romanticized belief. The reality is that will not be the case for everyone. The best option in that scenario would be to use the least dangerous option. I would recommend http://www.smokenmist.com electronic cigarettes to someone looking to reduce the carcinogenic consequences of smoking. The fact that electronic cigarettes are less harmful than their tobacco counterparts is irrefutable. So until a better option is available those who are unable to quit completely should not continue using the most dangerous product if they are unable to quit completely.

    • Laura Miller January 7, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

      Thanks for your comment, Aaron. While electronic cigarettes may be some what “safer” (and I use that term loosely) I do think it can be a reality for everyone to be smoke free. Quitting smoking can be extremely difficult but I do not think it is impossible. Thanks for your recommendation of electronic cigarettes. Personally, I recommend not smoking whatsoever. It’s harmful to your body, the environment, your wallet and worst of all smokers poison the innocent people around them (2nd & 3rd hand smoke). Thanks for reading and for your comment.

      • Tim February 23, 2014 at 11:25 pm #

        I like how you use certain persuasive wording, like “somewhat safer” what constitutes somewhat? How do you measure that? Just like other studies that show nicotine is not a carcinogen but it has shown “some” bone degradation. What level is some? How do you measure that? You see the point is you are trying to make a point. Whether you admit it or not. And by using words that no one can measure you incite opinion of what “somewhat” or “some” really mean. How can a study be “:scientific” when they use words like that? What scientist in their right mind uses wording like that at all? Oh I forgot, the kind that have an agenda. You also go on to say “However, those same studies are also citing that long-term use of e-cigarettes is a healthy alternative to tobacco cigarettes. While they may be an okay alternative for smoking cessation, they are NOT a good long-term replacement for regular cigarettes. The bottom line is that you’re still inhaling nicotine which will continue to fuel your addiction.”

        So what is your point? I quit completely using e-cigs. I tried the patch, gum, (did not try pills as it made my friend suicidal so I opted to stay away from that “acceptable form of cessation..I hope you see the humor in that comment) to no avail. I used a e-cig for 3 months and stepped down nicotine levels (which is not a carcinogen by the way, PROVEN by science). And eventually, I quit all together. By the way the same methods for cessation approved by the FDA have the same ingredients that everyone points to, Polypropylene Glycol. Which is also used in the inhaler cessation tool that the FDA has approved. Sure there is a risk of buying liquids from china or unreliable sources. Mine came from a company that also produces OTC medicines. With the same practices and ISO standards. You can’t blanket statement everything and use words like some, may, unknown to prove your point. Please, use common sense and know that 4 chemicals are far better than thousands found in Tabasco, or cessation programs that are proven to be just as successful as e-cigs, proven by the way, google it. I refuse to do research for lazy writers. Please use your brain, and common sense before you write an article full of holes and no understanding of the industry. BTW, Adults like cheesecake too, not just children. Are you that stupid to think adults don’t like ice cream, chocolate and cake flavors? So all cookies and junk food are purchased by children? Please as I write this I just lose more and more respect for you. Pathetic, .

        • Laura Miller February 24, 2014 at 7:19 am #

          Hi Tim,
          Thanks for reading—you make a good point. What constitutes “somewhat safer?” I’m not entirely sure. I don’t think there has been enough long-term research done on e-cigarettes to know if they are a good long-term replacement for traditional cigarettes. Good for you for using e-cigs as a method of quitting, I’m glad you were able to quit. My personal belief is, and always will be, that using e-cigs are a replacement for traditional cigarettes is not healthy. I do think they could be a good tool for smoking cessation like I mentioned, especially when used as you stated with gradually diminishing levels of nicotine. I am, believe it or not, intelligent enough to know that 4 chemicals are better than thousands but I’d hope that you are intelligent enough to realize that zero chemicals are better than 4—you missed my point on this one. I have never, and will never think that inhaling nicotine into your lungs is healthy—ever. I’m sorry if that causes you to lose respect for me but I have little respect for smokers who pollute the air, ground and drive up healthcare costs for people who choose not to smoke. Since nicotine is not a carcinogen, you are welcome to inhale as much nicotine as you’d like into your lungs—I’d prefer to keep disgusting chemicals out of mine.

        • Laura Miller April 16, 2014 at 11:02 am #

          http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/16/business/e-cigarette-study-data-may-raise-concerns.html?action=click&contentCollection=Health&region=Footer&module=MoreInSection&pgtype=Blogs

          Interesting new research–we’re starting to finally see some more meaningful research & data on e-cigs.

        • eileen ross October 10, 2015 at 3:58 pm #

          Tim, you sound like a complete ass.

  2. Sean Ben January 8, 2014 at 4:03 am #

    E-cigs are the safe alternative to smoking cigs as they don’t contain nay bad effects in them and can be used at any place for vaping.

    • Laura Miller January 8, 2014 at 7:53 am #

      Yes and no–we don’t know the long term effects of these and I can’t imagine inhaling nicotine into your lungs is safe!

  3. Linda January 8, 2014 at 6:19 pm #

    I don’t get every one’s preoccupation with e-cigs. First, those who didn’t smoke, wanted people to quit, and eventually it was outlawed in most places. Now the same people are trying to get e-cigs outlawed, even though the vapor doesn’t seem to hurt anyone secondhandedly. We have pot that is legal now in some states, we have liquor which kills thousands, legal, and they are worried that someone may enjoy smoking an e-cig, that bothers no one as far as we know. Me thinks it’s an attempt to control people’s lives. Do we live in police states?

    • Laura Miller January 9, 2014 at 8:20 am #

      Thanks for reading, Linda. Personally the thing that concerns me is that there is not enough long-term data to show whether e-cigs harm those around the smoker. I also think it’s just foolish-with outlandish healthcare costs I would think a person would want to do everything they can to stay healthy and to me, smoking e-cigs is not healthy. In Wisconsin we are smoke free, something I greatly enjoy. It’s nice to be able to take my young daughter out to restaurants and not have to worry about nasty second hand smoke having an impact on her health. You make a good point about liquor but at the same time, me sitting at a bar having one beer would not directly harm you sitting next to me. Me sitting at a bar smoking a cigarette would have a negative impact on you if you were sitting next to me. I think there definitely needs to be more research done on the long-term impact smoking e-cigs can have. Remember, at one point, regular cigarettes were advertised as safe too. I just can’t wrap my head around the idea that inhaling nicotine into your lungs, e-cigs or regular, is safe or healthy.

  4. Sue January 21, 2014 at 6:49 am #

    Well I have been wondering about the safety of the e cigs as I stopped smoking regular cigarettes new years as my resolution, but I use the e cig as often as smoking regular cigarette, I will eventually give it up that will be a burden off me!

  5. nicstick batteries January 29, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

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  6. Purchase e-hookah flavor January 31, 2014 at 8:06 am #

    Traditional tobacco cigarettes are harmful and seriously injurious to health. Comparing with this, e-cigs are safer and healthier.

    • Laura Miller January 31, 2014 at 8:09 am #

      Thanks for your comment. I personally disagree that ecigs are safe and/or healthy. There is nothing healthy about inhaling nicotine into your lungs! Thanks for reading.

      • Rei May 10, 2014 at 12:58 am #

        He is saying “comparing with e-cigs and regular cigs, e-cigs are safer and healthier.
        And u replied “I personally disagree that ecigs are safe and/or healthy. ”

        Nobody said that… e-cigs of course not healthy, but healthier than regular one.
        If other smoke really care about that 4 chamical, they already quit smoking for a long time…

        “I don’t think there has been enough long-term research done on e-cigarettes….blah blah”
        If u lag of information, why u still writing this acticle, and tell people that u got no figure support.

        • Laura Miller May 12, 2014 at 5:47 am #

          You’re free to smoke all you’d like. I’m just stating my opinion!

  7. Carrie Blanc February 3, 2014 at 2:57 am #

    It is a fact that when someone decides to buy electric cigarettes, they are making a healthier choice than buying tobacco cigarettes, and that doesn’t mean only when they’re buying e-health cartridges to go with their e-cigarettes just because it has the word ‘health’ attached to it.

    • Laura Miller February 3, 2014 at 8:04 am #

      Healthier? Maybe. Healthy? No. Thanks for reading!

  8. Nic Hit eCigs February 14, 2014 at 2:12 am #

    The electronic cigarette is the safest and healthiest alternative that will help you get rid of the bad habit of smoking! You should make a thorough online research and see which the best electronic cigarette available is. The best thing you can do is to purchase a starter kit, because there you will have all the accessories that you need in order to enjoy your new healthy smoking habit.
    Electronic cigarettes, a healthy smoking alternative, free from all sorts of harmful tobacco, not even release bad odour, available in various flavors and are legal to smoke even at public places because of being healthy in nature.

    electronic cigarettes

    • Laura Miller February 14, 2014 at 8:25 am #

      The best thing you can do is not smoke at all. Sorry Nic, these may be somewhat “healthier” than traditional cigarettes but inhaling nicotine is not healthy in nature.

      • Jonathan Rogers March 11, 2014 at 6:10 pm #

        It might interest you to know that these vaporizers produce the exact same thing as smoke machines used in theaters and movies. Also perfume, air freshener and many other products. There have been many studies about the health risks in the performing arts. The only difference is the nicotine.

        If someone uses them to quit smoking and slowly reduce their nicotine level to 0, and maintain it there then should not be punished any more than the company that puts automatic air freshener in their public restrooms.

        • Laura Miller March 12, 2014 at 8:08 am #

          Good point–using them in that way as a smoking cessation tool may work for a lot of people and is a great choice. My point was that I’m not convinced that using these as an alternative to cigarettes long term is a good idea.

          • Jonathan Rogers March 12, 2014 at 11:32 am #

            I just also wanted to point out that (for me, at least) using a vaporizer with food flavours like pancakes satisfies my cravings without snacking.

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  10. Ed Hall April 4, 2014 at 9:37 am #

    I absolutely agree – that not smoking at all is definitely the best alternative, but for so many people the next best alternative has been e-cigarattes over patches, gum etc.

    • Ed Hall April 4, 2014 at 9:42 am #

      There has been a lot of discussion in the UK about packaging and if plain Unbranded packaging is better than the pictures of deadly lungs etc. but I’m not sure how much difference either would make to a stubborn smoker! P.S. That advert is quite unbelievable!

    • Laura Miller April 16, 2014 at 11:03 am #

      I think they can be a great stepping stone for quitting all together, definitely. I’m not convinced they’re a long term replacement though.

  11. seanben April 23, 2014 at 4:29 am #

    E-cigs are the safe alternative to smoking habit as they dont contain nay bad effects in them and are safe for vaping.

  12. highest electronic June 13, 2014 at 6:20 am #

    An electronic cigarette (e-cig or e-cigarette), personal vaporizer (PV) or electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) is a battery-powered vaporizer which simulates tobacco smoking by producing an aerosol[1] commonly, although incorrectly, called “vapor” that resembles smoke. It generally uses a heating element known as an atomizer, that vaporizes a liquid solution known as e-liquid. E-liquids usually contain a mixture of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin.
    Read more:http://www.quality-vapor.com/

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  14. amy August 5, 2014 at 5:49 am #

    Electronic cigs are the most safe and best smoking alternative device that helps easily quit traditional smoking habit that is quiet unsafe.

  15. sean August 22, 2014 at 7:17 am #

    The safe and great smoking alternative unlike the traditional smoking habit that is very harmful and contains toxic substances in them.

  16. sean November 20, 2014 at 4:17 am #

    E-cigs are very safe for health and they are used fore vaping unlike the smoking products that produces smoke as ingredient from them.
    E-cigs are very safe and healthy smoking alternative.

  17. chrisdarren January 15, 2015 at 7:27 am #

    Thanks for the info.. Well, I agree with Sean. e-cigarettes are great alternative for traditional cigarettes and people can easily trust them as they are USDA certified: http://prn.to/1v6yhuG

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