E-cigarettes are everywhere these days, being sold in malls, online, and everywhere you look. They are advertised as being the ‘safe alternative to smoking’, but the question remains, are they really that safe?
The way e-cigarettes work, is that a liquid cartridge containing nicotine, flavours, and other chemicals is heated into an inhalable vapor. This vapor is then inhaled, or "vaped." For this reason, smoking an electronic cigarette is often referred to as ‘vaping’.
Even though e-cigs are safer than smoking real cigarettes which contain tobacco, they can still be considered as a type of gateway drug, which may lead users to eventually smoke regular cigarettes which are bad for one’s health.
The key difference between conventional cigarettes and e-cigarettes is that e-cigarettes don’t contain tobacco. However, it isn’t just the tobacco in cigarettes that causes cancer. Conventional cigarettes contain a various chemicals that are proven harmful, and e-cigarettes have some of these same chemicals.
We assume that the vapors let off from e-cigarettes are safe, but the truth is that few studies have looked at the toxicity of their vapors. As a result, scientists have been circumspect about describing e-cigarettes as safe..
A tip to consider If you smoke and are trying to quit, is not to start vaping. You're better off with an FDA-approved method of quitting, like the nicotine patch or gum. There's good evidence that they help. E-cigarettes may turn out to be an effective way to quit, but we don't have the proof yet. If you're not planning to quit, you should talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of switching to e-cigarettes.
In summary, there are no long-term studies to back up claims that the vapor from e-cigarettes is less harmful than conventional smoke. E-cigarettes are safer than conventional cigarettes in terms of not having tobacco, but they still contain traces of nicotine which is equally addictive.
Also, cancer is something which takes years to develop, and e-cigarettes were only very recently introduced. It is almost impossible to determine if a product increases a person’s risk of cancer or not until the product has been around for at least 15-20 years.
Despite positive reviews from e-cigarette users who enjoy being able to smoke them where regular cigarettes are prohibited, very little is known about their safety and long-term health effects.