Are E-Cigarettes Really A Reduced-Risk To Health?

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Electronic Cigarettes
Electronic Cigarettes

Some studies have suggested that propylene glycol (PG) vapours can cause respiratory irritation and increase chances of users developing asthma. However, in reaction to this, some manufacturers are replacing the PG with distilled water and glycerin, which is considered less of an irritant.

Do They Aid In Quitting Smoking?

A study published in May 2014 states the following:

While e-cigarette aerosol may contain fewer toxicants than cigarette smoke, studies evaluating whether e-cigarettes are less harmful than cigarettes are inconclusive. Some evidence suggests that e-cigarette use may facilitate smoking cessation, but definitive data are lacking. No e-cigarette has been approved by FDA as a cessation aid. Environmental concerns and issues regarding non-user exposure exist. The health impact of e-cigarettes, for users and the public, cannot be determined with currently available data.

So the argument that E-Cigarettes can be used to help with stopping smoking is certainly not proven to date.

Secondhand Smoke

There is however, a saving grace regarding second-hand smoke. A study published in June 2014 by Sobczak et al evaluated the secondhand exposure to nicotine and other tobacco-related toxicants from e-cigarettes.

E-Cigarettes do not give off any vapour between puffs, but some vapour is exhaled by the user. Using an e-cigarette in indoor environments may involuntarily expose nonusers to nicotine but not to toxic tobacco-specific combustion products. It is certainly preferable to protect non-smokers from the toxic ‘combustion’ products found in mainstream cigarettes, but the effect of nicotine on nonusers needs to be investigated further. Sobczak specifically recommends caution around vulnerable people, including children, pregnant women and those with cardiovascular issues.

Electronic Cigarettes
Electronic Cigarettes

An earlier study from October 2012 also analysed the effect of E-Cigarette vapour on indoor air quality, following proposals to ban indoor the use of the new products in public spaces. Babaian et al tested four different high nicotine e-liquids, comparing with mainstream tobacco in an indoor space, 40 metres cubed. The results were as follows:

Non-cancer risk analysis revealed “No Significant Risk” of harm to human health for vapor samples from e-liquids (A-D). In contrast, for tobacco smoke most findings markedly exceeded risk limits indicating a condition of “Significant Risk” of harm to human health. With regard to cancer risk analysis, no vapor sample from e-liquids A-D exceeded the risk limit for either children or adults. The tobacco smoke sample approached the risk limits for adult exposure. 

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  1. Firstly, thank you for writing a well-balanced and thought out article, I enjoyed reading it. 🙂

    “Overall, it could be said that E-Cigarettes are a better choice than traditional tobacco, but it is important that consumers recognise that there may still be a significant risk to health and wellbeing when using these products.” – driving or walking or even living in any environment where you find vehicles, factories, coal stoves/fire places is way more unhealthy and even extremely dangerous to your health than smoking or inhaling vapour from an e-cigarette or through “vaping”.

    My husband started vaping over a year ago. No more “stinkies”. He quit smoking cigarettes the same day he started vaping. Within the first couple of weeks, he stopped wheezing when climbing stairs, coughing in the mornings and his blood pressure came down to normal levels. After 3 months he started lowering the nicotine strength in his vape liquids. A huge plus point for me is that I don’t have to run around with air freshener anymore (which is harmful to the environment, pets and humans). The flavours he vapes smells nice and I don’t mind him vaping in the house as my curtains and linen don’t smell like an old dirty ashtray anymore.

    It is a bit concerning that everytime something “good” or rather better becomes available, especially if we look at alternative medicines and cures and alternatives to smoking cigarettes that companies spend thousands if not millions trying to debunk that it is better and/or safer. The amount of negative propaganda/articles that appear overnight once pharmaceutical companies and big corporations (tobacco companies) start losing revenue amazes me (not really), what is really concerning is that the public so easily accepts “research papers” as fact without doing any research of their own. Walking or driving to work in traffic is a real killer. Inhaling all that petrol and diesel fumes can surely not be good for one’s health? Yet, alternative “green” fuel is made so expensive and the red tape to get to use it is on a “forever roll”. Petrol and diesel fumes do not just affect your lungs, but your eyes and skin as well. City smog has a way to cling to your clothes that make you smell like you are living in a prehistoric hut with no windows and a fire burning 24/7.

    Sometimes one just needs to ask one self who is paying for this negative “research” and why, when a couple of hundred/thousand people can and will testify to the difference it made in their lives (and pockets).

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