E-cigarettes and vapes have been growing in popularity. The Lung Association says that these have become the most commonly used tobacco products in young people. However, it is important to fully know what is in any product before trying it. Understanding the health risk may determine whether or not someone wants to try the trend.
What are E-Cigarettes?
E-cigarettes stands for electronic cigarettes. E-cigarettes are electronic nicotine delivery systems, or ENDS. Other ENDS include e-pens, e-pipes, e-hookah, e-cigars, and JUULs (vapes, and vape pens). These are often tobacco products. Unlike traditional cigarettes or cigars, e-cigarettes are battery-operated or rechargeable. They heat an e-liquid from a cartridge. Many of these are refillable. When heated, they release a chemical filled aerosol. Sometimes, e-cigarettes look like typical cigarettes. Others are designed to look like everyday items like pens or flash drives.
What is in E-Cigarettes?
E-Cigarettes are filled with e-liquid in cartridges. Not all e-liquids are the same. A majority of e-liquid cartridges contain nicotine or CBD oil, but they can have other substances. They often are flavored to have different scents, as well. In addition to nicotine extracted from tobacco, the e-liquid includes a base.
According to The American Lung Association, the following substances are often components of e-cigarettes:
- Acrolein: This is an herbicide, or weed-killer, known to cause lung damage.
- Benzene: This is a volatile organic compound that is also found in car exhaust.
- Cadmium: This toxic metal is known to cause breathing problems or disease.
- Carcinogens: These are chemicals known to cause cancer.
- Diacetyl: This chemical is linked to bronchiolitis obliterans, a lung disease.
- Diethyline glycol and Propylene glycol: These food additives are also used in antifreeze, fog machine smoke, and paint solvent.
- Nickel, tin, lead, or other heavy metals
- Nicotine: Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm hinder brain development.
- Ultrafine particles: These can cause damage when inhaled into the lungs.
- Vegetable glycerin: A University of North Carolina discovered that these are toxic to cells.
Are E-Cigarettes Safer than Normal Cigarettes?
It may be difficult to judge the safety of e-cigarettes, as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not conducted a review of e-cigarettes. The FDA has not issued any official standards, so the chemicals in e-cigarettes may vary. The U.S. Surgeon General has warned about the risks of using e-cigarettes and inhaling e-cigarette secondhand smoke.
Some believe that e-cigarettes can be beneficial to smokers looking to substitute regular cigarettes or other tobacco products. This because e-cigarettes contain fewer toxic chemicals than regular cigarettes. Still, the Food and Drug Administration has not found any conclusive studies proving this.
E-cigarettes aerosol substances are also harmful. Those that do not already smoke tobacco products are not advised to start using e-cigarettes. A University of North Carolina study found that inhaling from e-cigarettes is likely to expose users to a large amount of harmful toxins. The more ingredients in the e-liquid, the more of a toxic affect it has on the body.
The CDC has stated that e-cigarette aerosol is dangerous for consumers, as they may pose many risks. While the CDC has emphasized that more scientific studies should be done on the long-term effects, the following health effects of e-cigarettes are known:
- Nicotine is highly addictive.
- Breathing in the chemicals of e-cigarettes is toxic for developing fetuses.
- Nicotine is dangerous for pregnant women.
- Nicotine is harmful for brain development. This makes adolescents especially high-risk.
- Smoking can cause permanent lung damage
- Aerosol e-cigarette users breathe in and exhale contain harmful substances that are potentially cancer-causing
Another concern is that young adults that use e-cigarettes are more likely to use traditional cigarettes.
There are some additional risks that e-cigarettes can pose. For example, a broken or defective device could cause fires, explosions, and burns. This may be due to battery charging issues.
While some say that e-cigarettes are safer than regular cigarettes, it is important to know that e-cigarettes can still harm health. If you have any questions about e-cigarettes and how they may affect your health, speak with a medical doctor. With the most knowledge, you can make choices that are best for you.