E cigarettes have had a massive rise in popularity since 2012 with over 6.1 million people in Europe quitting tobacco thanks to these devices. As one of the main reason why people want to quit smoking is the risk to their health, and the negative health effects caused from smoking, it is natural to ask, are e cigarettes bad for you, are e cigarettes harmful and are e cigarettes safe to use?
We have compiled the most relevant and up to date information on this topic to allow you to make your own decision based on the facts. All information presented in this article is referenced with links so you can click through the hyperlinks to see sources for all info presented in this article.
The Facts About E Cigarettes
- There is no smoke from e cigarettes. There is no burning or combustion, so there is no carbon monoxide (one of the most harmful parts of smoking tobacco).(1)
- There is almost certainly no risk from second hand vaping.(2)
- The majority of e liquid is propylene glycol and vegetable glycerine which is generally regarded as safe (GRAS) by the FDA.(3)
- 95% less harmful to your health than normal cigarettes according to Public Heath England.(4)
What is in E Cigarettes? What is the Liquid in E Cigarettes? What is the Smoke from E Cigarettes?
The smoke from e cigarettes is actually vapour. This vapour is made from a liquid in e cigarettes. This is called e liquid and is made up of propelyene glycol, vegetable glycerine, flavouring and nicotine.(5)
Propelyene glycol: This liquid is what carries the flavour and nicotine in e-liquid and also produces the fog. It is used in thousands of different products including cosmetics, food, ventilation systems, smoke machines and asthma inhalers.
Vegetable glycerine: This is thick, odourless liquid that produces the dense, foggy vapour from e-liquid. It is used in many different things including food and drugs.
Flavouring: There are literally thousands of different flavourings in e liquid, from traditional tobacco to chicken flavour and ice cream. These are food flavourings that are used in cooking, baking and in food products made by companies that we buy everyday.
Nicotine: This is the addictive ingredient that is also in tobacco cigarettes. It is classed as a stimulant and a relaxant. It increase metabolism and decreases hunger(6) and can cause feelings of both alertness and relaxation.(7)
Dangers of E Cigarettes, How Safe are E Cigarettes
The main issue when asking are e cigarettes safe is that there is no long term data on usage of these products. Because they are relatively new, data on long term usage is not available. However most of the things in e cigarettes do have data associated with their use. The ingredients of e-liquid are safe for human consumption, excluding nicotine in large enough amounts. However this does not mean inhalation of these parts are guaranteed to be safe.
Propelyene Glycol: Licensed for long-term and high-volume inhalation under employee health regulations and has been documented to be incident free for 70 years. In fact PG may be a powerful deterrent against pneumonia, influenza, and other respiratory diseases when inhaled.(8)
Vegetable glycerine: This has also been used in inhale-able medication since 2000 and almost certainly safe to be used in this way.
Nicotine: Although present in tobacco smoke, this is not the part that causes cancer or heart disease.(9) Studies have been done on high levels of nicotine inhalation showing that it does not increase mortality rate.(10) However this is a drug and toxic in large amounts. Nicotine present in e liquid is in concentrations far lower than can cause serious harm by inhalation.(11) Care should be taken to avoid consumption of large amounts. Always keep e-liquid away from children and pets with the safety caps secured.
Flavourings: Flavourings are really the one unknown part of inhalation safety in vapor e cigarettes. Although perfectly safe for ingestion, they have never been used in inhalation devices so there is no long term data on their safety. Food flavourings can be made up of hundreds of different chemicals to recreate certain flavours and at high temperatures can produce potentially toxic chemicals. However all current studies suggest the level of these toxic chemicals are not high enough to cause significant damage.(12)
What are E Cigarette Side Effects and how Bad are E Cigarettes for your Health?
Are E Cigarettes Bad for your Lungs? Are E Cigarettes Bad for your Heart?
E vapor cigarettes can reduce lung and myocardial function, increase inflammation, and have toxic content but to a much lower extent than combustible cigarettes in virtually all cases.(13) If you have any current or pre-existing heart or lung condition you should consult your doctor before use and ask are e cigarettes safe to use.
Nicotine Health Risks in E Cigarettes
Nicotine stimulates the central nervous system and raises your heart rate, respiration and blood pressure. However if you are a current smoker you are already using nicotine and exposed to these health risks. Nicotine does not cause cancer and is not responsible for the cancer causing effects of tobacco.(14)
Are Nicotine Free E Cigarettes Bad for You
Non nicotine e cigarettes are pretty much as safe as nicotine containing ones. This is because nicotine on its own and in small amounts doesn’t have serious long term health effects. So e cigarettes without nicotine are around the same level of safety as nicotine containing ones.
How Bad are E Cigs Compared to Cigarettes
With all the information considered, the most serious point that should be considered is not are e cigarettes safe, but how bad are e cigs compared to cigarettes. Almost everything we consume on a day to day basis is bad for us in one way or another. Even too much oxygen would kill you and eating too many bananas would do the same. Non smokers should not start using e cigarettes as they would almost certainly have some effect on your health, no matter how small. However if you are a current smoker, or ex smoker highly likely to relapse, the serious question is are e cigarettes healthier than tobacco, and are e cigarettes as bad as cigarettes?
E Cigs vs Cigarettes
Public Heath England asked are e cigarettes safe and studied all the facts. They concluded e cigarettes are at least 95% less harmful to your health than normal cigarettes.(15) They contain no carbon monoxide which is one of the most deadliest things in tobacco smoke.(16) There is almost no risk of second hand smoke / vapour from e cigarettes making them much healthier for people around you.(17) If you are a current smoker you have a 2 out of 3 chance of dying from smoking.(18) So stopping smoking right now, whether that is going cold turkey, using NRT or using e cigarettes will massively increase your chance of living longer and staying healthy.
If you are ready to make the change by trying e cigarettes and joining the millions of ex smokers who have quit with these devices, try our newest device: the Endura T18 starter kit.