The electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) trend has really taken off the past few years for several reasons. This new take on the cigarette was invented in China and introduced to the U.S. market in 2007. E-cigarette companies state that the emissions from these electronic cigars are not harmful and toxin-filled, and some restaurants and bars that don’t permit patrons to smoke conventional cigarettes allow e-cigarettes. The cigarettes are filled with liquid that is heated by battery power each time the user takes a puff. As a result, no smoke or carbon dioxide is emitted from the cigarette, which is why many people see e-cigarettes are a healthier choice.
Electronic cigarettes are also used by individuals who want to stop smoking. Statistics reveal that despite the clear messages in the media that outline the damages of cigarettes, about 40 million people in the U.S. are smokers. E-cigarettes are said to be particularly relaxing and easy to use, and aren’t filled with some of the addictive chemicals in cigarette smoke. So, some people who want to be smoke-free but are apprehensive about going cold turkey rely on electronic cigarettes to help them transition into a healthier life.
But, as great as e-cigarettes sound, are they really better for you than conventional cigarettes? Do electronic cigarettes pose any health risks?
It’s important to note that while electronic cigarettes don’t contain tobacco, they are still filled with nicotine, along with a solvent called propylene glycol and other additives. Most e-cigarettes also contain flavoring; bubble gum and fruit flavors are common. Nicotine has been known to alter natural hormone production. Nicotine can also cause blurred vision, headaches, irregular heartbeats and nausea. Mouth sores and fatigue are also side effects of nicotine.
The liquid nicotine in electronic cigarettes comes from tobacco, and can be lethal, even if a small amount is ingested or absorbed through the skin. According to the book “10 Little-Known Facts About E-Cigarettes,” less than one tablespoon of liquid nicotine is enough to kill an adult. A child could die after ingesting just one teaspoon of the lethal liquid. Between September 2010 and February 2014, poison control center calls regarding nicotine poisoning rose substantially. During this time, calls increased from one per month to as many as 215 calls.
Electronic cigarettes are also not regulated. They can be sold to anyone, regardless of age. E-cigarettes do not come with warning labels and have not been approved by the FDA as a way to quit smoking. The incidences of respiratory and cardiovascular issues linked to electronic cigarettes also increased between March 2013 and March 2014. Due to the abundance of research studies citing the dangers of electronic cigarettes, e-cigs may not make a huge difference in improving the health, or reducing the health risks, of those who use them.
The American Cancer Society states that nicotine replacement and medications can serve as effective ways to stop smoking. However, these are only to be used as transitional tools, and work differently for each individual. Other approved methods to stop smoking include acupuncture, taking herbs and supplements and utilizing magnet therapy.