Because smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes has been proven to cause cancer and lead to other health-related complications, a large number of people have turned to electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes.  But a very important question remains:  Are e cigarettes safe?

Although e-cigarettes appear to be a safer choice for people who enjoy smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes, there is some controversy. Part of the challenge is that every company that manufactures electronic cigarettes is going to boast about the benefits. However, it is just as important to understand some of the downfalls associated with this type of alternative cigarette.

What are e-Cigarettes?
In simple terms, an e-cigarette is an electronic inhaler through which vaporized liquid nicotine is smoked. While there are some similarities between electronic and real cigarettes, there are distinct differences as well.

In some cases, e-cigarettes are more similar to traditional cigarettes than are are different.  In fact, most e-cig companies offer designs that look like the real deal. As far as differences, there is no tar with e-cigarettes, which many people believe makes them a safer option. Keep in mind that medical doctors, researchers and scientists have recently taken a closer look at electronic cigarettes and have raised serious concerns. For that reason, most countries do not allow e-cigarettes to be marketed as a tobacco replacement or aid to stop smoking.

What Are The Pros of e-Cigarettes?
Admittedly, there are several advantages to choosing e-cigarettes over tobacco cigarettes:

  • For one thing, these “cigarettes” do not contain tar as mentioned, which is extremely harmful to the lungs.
  • Long-term, e-cigarettes are less expensive than traditional cigarettes. Although there is an initial investment, the cost to smoke diminishes by 50% or more.
  • These alternative cigarettes do not produce smoke, just vapor. Therefore, they can be smoked virtually anywhere, even indoors.
  • Because e-cigarettes are smoke-free, ash-free, and pose a smaller risk of fire, they are better environmentally.
  • E-Cigarettes are available in multiple designs and nicotine comes in standard plus enhanced flavors.

What Are The Cons of e-Cigarettes?
Remember, along with benefits there are some negative aspects of e-cigarettes that should be fully understood:

  • Even though tar is eliminated, carcinogens (substances capable of causing cancer) are still inhaled from the nicotine vapor.
  • Nicotine, regardless of how it is inhaled or ingested, can cause damage to blood sugar and the circulatory system.
  • As stated above, a growing number of countries have placed restrictions on e-cigarettes or have banned them altogether.
  • Many e-cigarettes use liquid nicotine that contains propylene glycol, which is a form of alcohol that can cause dehydration by absorbing other liquids and body moisture.  Some people can experience allergic reactions to propylene glycol as well.
  • As of today, long-term effects of smoking electronic cigarettes remains unknown.
  • There have been reports of e-cigarette batteries exploding.

While not yet in law, it is expected the United States government appears to be moving forward in soon enforcing new regulations on this product. Unfortunately, the exact timing and impact is not yet known but experts believe change can be expected sometime in 2013.

We want to point out that in 2008 the World Health Organization stated that to-date, no intense, peer-reviewed studies have been performed to prove e-cigarettes are a safe alternative form of smoking. Then in 2009, the United States Food and Drug Administration or USFDA conducted testing on 19 varieties of e-cigarette cartridges. The findings were both surprising and alarming with at least one cartridge containing a poisonous and hygroscopic liquid.

Since first being introduced in China almost 10 years ago, new information has been uncovered about e-cigarettes, some good and some bad. Now, it goes without saying that compared to regular cigarettes, electronic cigarettes may appear to be a safer option but because there are risks, it is imperative to get all the facts before switching.

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